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The US President visited St John’s Episcopal Church on Monday where he held up a bible and posed for pictures. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared the moment to the former British Prime Minister inspecting bomb damage during World War Two.
Ms McEnany said: “I would note that through all of time we have seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for a nation to see at any given time to show a message of resilience and determination.
“Like Churchill – we saw him inspecting the bombing damage – it sent a powerful image of leadership to the British people.
“And George W. Bush throwing out the ceremonial first pitch after 9/11.
“And Jimmy Carter putting on a sweater to encourage energy savings.
“And George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act flanked by two disabled Americans.
“For this president, it was powerful and important to send a message that the rioters, the looters, the anarchists, they will not prevail.
“That burning churches is not what America is about.
“And that moment – holding the bible up – is something that has been widely hailed by Fraklin Graham and others and it was a very important symbol for the American people to see that we will get through this, through unity and through faith.”
Thousands of protesters gathered at Lafayette Park by the White House in Washington DC on Monday as part of demonstrations over the death of Mr Floyd.
Police officers cleared the crowd using tear gas before Mr Trump made an address to the nation.
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After his speech, the US President walked to the church and posed for pictures holding up a bible.
The Rt Rev Mariann Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, to which St John’s belongs, said she was “outraged” by Mr Trump’s actions.
She told American broadcaster CNN: “He took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that would be a celebratory moment.
“There was nothing I could do but speak out against that.
“Let me be clear, the president just used a bible, and one of the churches of my diocese, without permission, as a backdrop for a message antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and everything that our churches stand for.
“He sanctioned the use of tear gas by police officers in riot gear to clear the churchyard. I am outraged.”
Mr Floyd, 46, who was African American, died after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck in Minneapolis on May 25.
His death has sparked protests across the US and around the world.
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