Rev. Al Sharpton slammed President Donald Trump’s widely criticized recent photo-op outside a Washington, D.C., church, saying on Thursday that “we cannot use Bibles as a prop” or allow George Floyd to be used as one after his death at the hands of police.
While delivering a eulogy for Floyd in Minnesota, Sharpton did not mention the president by name, but referred to a Monday incident in which federal police aggressively cleared peaceful protesters near the White House to allow Trump’s passage to nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church to pose for photos with a Bible.
“I saw somebody standing in front of a church the other day that had been boarded up as a result of violence, held the Bible in his hand. I’ve been preaching since I was a little boy; I never seen anyone hold a Bible like that. But I’ll leave that alone,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton, who has regularly criticized Trump, also suggested some reading for the president.
“But since he held the Bible, if he’s watching us today, I would like him to open that Bible and I’d like him to read Ecclesiastes 3: ‘To every season there’s a time and a purpose,’” Sharpton said. “And I think that it is our job to let the world know when we see what is going on in the streets of this country, and in Europe, around the world, that you need to know what time it is.”
“We cannot use Bibles as a prop,” Sharpton added. “And for those that have an agenda that are not about justice, this family will not let you use George as a prop.”
Religious leaders, including two of D.C.’s top prelates, condemned Trump’s stunt on Monday, but he has defended himself and claimed it was “symbolic” and that “many religious leaders loved it,” pointing to evangelists who praised him.
Bishop Mariann Budde, leader of The Episcopal Diocese of Washington, expressed outrage about Trump’s exploit at the time, pledging the church’s support for the demonstrations against racism and deploring the president’s use of “a Bible and one of the churches of my diocese as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our church stands for.”
During his Thursday address, Sharpton also called on America to “protest against evil” and join those demonstrating in memory of Floyd ― a Black man killed by police last week as an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes ― to call for an end to injustice.
“We cannot cooperate with evil. We cannot cooperate with injustice. We cannot cooperate with torture, because George Floyd deserved better than that,” Sharpton said.
The memorial concluded with an eight-minute and 46-second silence for Floyd.