A WORD FROM THE RECTOR on the violence that occurred on and around St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., on Monday, June 1, 2020.
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
As many of you I’m sure already know, last Monday, the president of the United States sent militarized police troops in full riot gear to the consecrated grounds of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C., and these forces used tear gas and rubber bullets to drive away the clergy and relief workers who’d offered up God’s sacred space as a haven for rest and healing on that turbulent, violent, chaotic day. To say it was an attack on God’s Church would be an egregious understatement. It was a physical attack, yes, and that in and of itself is beyond the pale of outrage. But it was also an attack on everything that Jesus Christ and the Church that is His Body in this world stand for. It was an attack on the very soul of the Church. It was an attack on us, on you and me.
I worry that some of you will read the preceding paragraph and mistake it for something as crass and paltry—and inappropriate, for a rector of a parish—as secular political partisanship. It grieves me deeply, in point of fact, to realize that there might be any Episcopalian, any Christian, in the country who would see what I wrote above as some sort of political attack, rooted in the gross and destructive tribalism that has left us all so deeply divided in recent years (decades, really).
So let me be as clear and as plain as I possibly can: any secular authority who deploys militarized forces to use physical violence against peaceful, unarmed civilians is both ethically and morally wrong, full stop. It was wrong when the National Guard did it at Kent State University in 1970; it was wrong when the Communist Chinese government did it in Tiananmen Square in 1989; and though—thank God—no one was killed in this specific incident at St. John’s, it was wrong on Monday night.
God’s one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church is not a backdrop to be commandeered and perverted to serve the messaging of a secular political agenda of any party or persuasion.
The Bible is not a prop to be waved about as propaganda.
I therefore denounce and condemn these acts in the Name of Jesus Christ.
The Episcopal Church welcomes all, and all means all. Democrat, Republican, Left, Right, Center, black, white, brown, rich, poor, all ~ “for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:26-9).
But the kingdom of heaven cannot be taken by force (Matt. 11:12) by anyone. Please see what Presiding Bishop Michael Curry had to say about the events that occurred at St. John’s on Monday, and let us fervently dedicate ourselves to being a house of prayer and a light to enlighten the nations, as we’ve been called and appointed to be by God.
Statement from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry on President Donald Trump's use of a church building and the Holy Bible (from his Facebook page):