WASHINGTON (RNS) — Informal evangelical Christian advisers to President Donald Trump have long championed religious freedom as a key issue that should be embraced by the administration, often arguing passionately against government infringement on religious activities.
That’s why some have framed the president’s recent (June 1) photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, in which he held aloft a Bible for cameras, as an expression of support for religious freedom.
“(Trump) walked FOR the protection of the right of peaceful protest,” Johnnie Moore, who helped organize the Trump campaign’s evangelical advisory board in 2016 and now serves as a commissioner for the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, said in an email to Religion News Service. “He walked AGAINST the violent anarchists and looters who were disrupting those peaceful protests and dishonoring the memory of George Floyd.”
Other evangelical supporters of the president such as Franklin Graham and Texas pastor Robert Jeffress have also praised Trump’s walk to St. John’s, calling it an “important statement” and “absolutely correct.”
Moore and others have less to say about what happened before the president’s visit to the church — when police working with the federal government forced hundreds of demonstrators away from Lafayette Square and expelled clergy from church property.