Jul 30, 2019 - Politics & Policy

National Cathedral: Trump's tweets give cover to white supremacists

President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he walks to Marine One prior to departing from the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, July 5.

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Washington National Cathedral's leaders said Tuesday that President Trump uses "dangerous" and "violent dehumanizing words" to attack minority lawmakers and the city of Baltimore — warning that "violent words lead to violent actions."

"[T]hey are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human 'infestation' in America. They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation."
— Statement by Washington National Cathedral leaders

Why it matters: The national cathedral joins other clergy in condemning Trump for his attacks on black figures, in particular Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and the majority-black Baltimore-area district he represents — which the president called "a disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess."

  • The Ecumenical Leaders' Group of Maryland, which includes Christian community leaders, said in a letter to Trump his tweets were "horrible, demeaning and beneath the dignity of a political leader who should be encouraging us all to strive and work for a more civil, just and compassionate society."
  • Archbishop Lori of Baltimore said, "It saddens me to see Baltimore severely denigrated by President Trump."

The big picture: The Episcopal cathedral released its statement from the Revs. Mariann Edgar Budde, Randolph Marshall Hollerith and Kelly Brown Douglas a day after Trump met with conservative African American pastors while also escalating his attacks on black leaders to include the Rev. Al Sharpton.

  • Trump also continued his Twitter assault on Baltimore and civil rights icon Cummings.

What they're saying: The Episcopal cathedral leaders said they felt compelled to act over the "escalation of racialized rhetoric from the President" after he "crossed another threshold" with his comments on Baltimore and Cummings, which they compared to McCarthyism — a "similarly dark period in our history."

"Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city."

The other side: Following the group of about 20 pastors' closed-door meeting with Trump Monday, Coalition of African American Pastors president Bill Owens defended the president when asked if the president is racist, saying he finds that hard to believe "considering the things he’s done for the black community."

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