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'Religious leaders loved it!' Trump claims only 'the opposition party' didn't praise THAT photo-op

Donald Trump claimed Wednesday morning that religious leaders 'loved' his photo-op in front of St. John's Episcopal Church Monday, claiming only the 'opposition' party was against the stunt. 

The president told Fox News' Brian Kilmeade during his radio show that only Democrats were opposed to the short visit where he held up a bible for pictures in which windows could be seen boarded up after rioters set a fire in the basement of the church on Sunday.

'Most religious leaders loved it,' Trump claimed. 'I heard Franklin Graham this morning thought it was great. I heard many other people think it was great.'

'And it's only the other side that didn't like it. You know, the opposing -- the opposition party as the expression goes,' he asserted.

Evangelical leader Franklin Graham expressed support on Tuesday for Trump's religious 'statement.'

'Yesterday @POTUS Trump made a statement by walking to @StJohnLafayette that had been vandalized & set on fire in Sunday night's rioting,' Graham tweeted. 'God & His Word are the only hope for our nation.'

The less-than five-minute visit was followed the next day by the president and first lady traveling to a shrine to Pope John Paul II in Northeast Washington, D.C.

Donald Trump claimed Wednesday morning that religious leaders 'loved' him visiting St. John's Episcopal Church on Monday for a photo-op with his bible – and claimed only the 'opposition' party was against the stunt

Trump was specifically referencing Evangelist Franklin Graham, was tweeted support for the 'statement' made by Trump's five-minute visit

Franklin is a evangelical leader who is an ally of Trump. The evangelical and religious base was a huge factor contributing to trump winning the presidency in 2016

Before crossing Pennsylvania Avenue to the church, Lafayette Park was tear gassed to disperse protesters demonstrating between the White House and St. John's – but Trump claims he didn't know and did not direct the park to be cleared out

Trump claimed in his radio interview that he didn't know that protesters gathered in Lafayette Park, which separates the White House and St. John's, would need to be violently pushed out to make way for the high-profile trek across the street.

'I heard how nice and wonderful the protestors were over there. Really?' Trump sarcastically quipped to Kilmeade.

'Then why did they burn down the church the day before?' he questioned. 'They burned down a big section of it. Fortunately they were able to catch it in time.'

Protesters, violent and not, have surrounded the White House for days now, mostly convening in Lafayette Park, which is across from the North Lawn of the White House.

Law enforcement fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters gathered in the park Monday ahead of Trump's visit to the church across the street.

'Now, when I said go to the church, I didn't know protestors or not,' Trump said, revealing that he didn't think there would be people to clear for him to walk with his entourage of secret service, administration officials, aides and media across Pennsylvania Avenue.

'Nobody tells me that,' he continued. 'They say, yes, sir. We'll go to the church.'

'So we walked over to the church. It was very fast. I think it was very symbolic,' Trump admitted. 'I did hold up a Bible. I think that's a good thing, not a bad thing, and many religious leaders loved it.'

The president also claimed that law enforcement did not use tear gas – despite pictures and reports revealing otherwise.

'But most religious leaders loved it,' he reiterated to the Fox & Friends co-host. 'Why wouldn't they love it? I'm standing in front of a church that went through trauma -- to put it mildly.'

'I mean the whole basement – the big part of the basement was burning,' he said. 'It's very lucky that church didn't burn down. That's a very important church.'

St. John's is known as the Church of Presidents as every one since James Madison, with the exception of Richard Nixon, has attended a service there at least once.

As Washington, D.C. cleaned up Tuesday morning, Trump engaged in another religious stunt as he took first lady Melania on a trip to the national shrine to Pope John Paul II.

Trump's blatant appeal to his religious base, which was crucial to his 2016 win, earned clap back from some religious leaders.

Rector at St. John's Reverend Gini Gerbasi, who was in the park handing out water to protesters when police launched tear gas and non lethal bullets, said Trump turned a peaceful protest in a 'battleground' so he could carry out a 'cheap political stunt.' 

'I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,' Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in a statement just before Trump's visit to the national shrine  

Trump insisted he did not know the path would need to be cleared using force for his visit right across the street.  'Nobody tells me that,' he continued. 'They say, yes, sir. We'll go to the church'

Rector Gini Gerbasi (left)  and priest Glenna Huber  (right) say they were apart of the crowd of protesters that were teargassed and hit with rubber bullets by police clearing a path for President Donald Trump. Gerbasi said Trump turned the peaceful scene into a 'battle ground'

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington D.C., Bishop Mariann Budde, slammed the president for using force 'to use the church as a prop'

Archbishop Wilton Gregory, head of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., claimed Donald Trump's actions in posing for photos at religious sites are 'reprehensible'

Gregory is the nation's highest-ranking African-American bishop and has led the Archdiocese of Washington for just over a year. 

In the statement, the Archbishop pointed to the late Pope John Paul Il's defense of human rights in condemning 'the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.'

Although he did not use the president's name once in the statement, it was titled 'Archbishop Wilton Gregory Issues Statement on Planned Presidential Visit,' and claimed that Trump's actions Monday and Tuesday were all for the photo-op.

'Distracting from the powerful image and statement of our United States President holding up a Bible in front of an historic American Church,' Jenna Ellis tweeted in response to a post about Gregory's comments.

'This bishop is unfortunately a pawn of the leftist media that thrives on destruction of all that is moral and just,' she continued.  

About five hours after making the visit to the shrine, Melania released four photos from the short trip to her official @FLOTUS Twitter page and shared a message where she reasserted her husband's 'passion for religious freedom.'

'@POTUS & I honored the life & legacy of Saint John Paul II at @JP2Shrine today,' the first lady posted. 'His passion & dedication for religious freedom is a legacy that we must protect for people around the world.'

One of the images is of the first couple from behind kneeling in front of the altar in the shrine's chapel.

Trump's visit to the shrine came the morning after he made a very public trek from the White House to St. John's Episcopal Church, which caught on fire during riots on Sunday. 

Posing with a saint: Trump and Melania went to the national shrine to John Paul II, the late pope who is now a saint, in his second invocation of religious imagery in two days

A campaign legal aide defended the visit, claiming the Archbishop slamming the president is a 'pawn of the leftist media'

One of the images Melania included in her post on Twitter was from behind of her and Trump kneeling at the altar in the shrine's chapel 

Silent: Trump and Melania said nothing after inspecting a wreath at the shrine to Pope John Paul II. It is run by the Knights of Columbus. His White House Counsel Pat Cipollone was once the Catholic men's society's general counsel

President Trump claimed Tuesday morning that there were 'no problems' in Washington D.C. on Monday, but also claimed there were 'many arrests' as violent protesters continued to ransack the streets of the nation's capital in another night of riots over George Floyd's death

View from the motorcade: Trump's trip in the Beast with Melania took him past dozens of protesters and banners hung in its path highlighting the death of George Floyd

Trolling Trump: Protesters on the way to the shrine highlighted Trump fleeing to the White House bunker on Friday night when protests raged outside the executive mansion 

This is what normal looks like: Despite Trump's claim, the scenes in the nation's capital were similar to other nights in the city – and even saw military helicopter hovering over protesters and rioters in an attempt to disperse the crowd

White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway also had to defend Trump's actions on Tuesday after Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington criticized the photo-op in front of the church. 

'That is not — quote — her church. That is not — quote — her Bible. We don't look into other people's hearts and souls and discern and judge what their faith is, why the president felt compelled to walk there, why he held that Bible up.'

'That is a symbol to everyone that we will not allow arsonists and anarchists who set that fire ablaze, who really demean the memory of those who have lost their lives in the name of their respective faiths and religions,' Conway told Fox News host Harris Faulkner on Tuesday. 'We won't allow them to dissuade us from practicing our religion.' 

Budde said of Trump's photo-op at the D.C. church: '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.'

Donald Trump bragged Tuesday morning that law enforcement 'dominated' in Washington, D.C. Monday night as he claimed there were 'no problems' with rioters, but in the same tweet claimed there were 'many arrests' - then motorcaded past the remnants of chaos to visit a Catholic shrine.

'D.C. had no problems last night,' Trump boasted in his Tuesday morning tweet. 'Many arrests. Great job done by all. Overwhelming force. Domination.'

'Likewise, Minneapolis was great (thank you President Trump!),' he added, as he continues to take credit for de-escalating riots in Minneapolis, Minnesota after he urged the Democratic governor to activate the National Guard there in the wake of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the city's police.

Despite the president's claim, D.C. riots continued in full force Monday – even after a 7:00 p.m. curfew was enacted.

Looting, arson and confrontations between rioters and law enforcement continued in the nation's capital as military helicopters hovered low above the streets, using tactics practiced in Iraq and Afghanistan to deter insurgents.

Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats ripped the president for having protesters tear-gassed and 'beaten' so he could pose in front of St. John's Episcopal on Monday night after a Rose Garden address.

Inside the White House Hope Hicks was blamed for the photo-op which saw police deployed to clear a path for the president so he could brandish a bible in front of the church, which was fire-damaged on Sunday night. In the course of the operation, clergy at the church were among those tear-gassed and Episcopal leaders in the city tore into Trump Tuesday, accusing him of a 'stunt' which turned holy ground into a 'battleground.' 

Trump however tried to put that to one side by going to the shrine, and posing in front of the late pope, who is now a saint, standing hand-in-hand with Melania and saying nothing about the violence.

Video also shows the moment where Trump and the first lady are standing in front of the statue of John Paul II where the president tells his wife, who was holding a serious face, to smile for the photos.

She then gives a reprehensive, brief smile for photographers gathered for the trip.

The couple was hustled on a motorcade across a city scarred by violence he claimed had not happened, with protest signs on his route. 

Trump's visit to the shrine was followed by a signing a 'proclamation on religious freedom' in a sign of how he is hoping to appeal to religious voters.

The shrine to Pope John Paul II is located in Northeast Washington, D.C. and is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. While it is a place of prayer for Catholics, it welcomes people of all faiths.

The president traveled there by motorcade with first lady Melania - passing protesters mocking him for retreating to a bunker and slamming him for using St John's as a photo-op, as well as expressing anger at the death of Floyd and systematic racism.

Melania claims to be Catholic but has never been seen publicly attending a Catholic Church and it has been a full year since the president last attended a church service.

The move comes the morning after President Trump used the front of St. John's Episcopal Church, which was boarded up, for a photo-op Monday - having peaceful protester tear-gassed and pushed back by police mounted on horses.

It is located directly across from the north side of the White House, only separated by Lafayette Park, which was tear gassed to disperse protesters moments before the president emerged from his residence to make the short trek across the street – flanked by Secret Service, cabinet members, aides and media the whole way there and back.

Priests from the church revealed Monday that they were part of a peaceful crowd that was tear gassed by cops who were clearing a path for Trump.

Gini Gerbasi, a rector at the Church, revealed on Facebook Monday that she and other clergy and laypeople were passing out water to protesters when police flooded the area, pushing protesters, deploying tear gas and unleashing rubber bullets.

'That man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second,' Gerbasi said in her post.

St. John's was boarded up as protests surrounded the White House the last few days and convened in Lafayette Park, which sits between the  White House and church.  Rioters set a in the basement of the church on Sunday. This was Trump's first visit to a church since June of last year

Protesters in Lafayette Park were tear gassed and hit with non lethal rubber bullets to clear the path for the president's trek across the street 

While he made the short trek across the street to the church, the president passed graffiti of profanity aimed at Trump

The main message was 'f*** Trump' 

Joe Biden slams Donald Trump for 'narcissism' after tear-gassing protesters for a photo op 

Biden slammed President Donald Trump for his racist rhetoric, 'narcissism' and his Monday night stunt that left protesters tear-gassed in front of the White House so the president could hold a photo-op. 

He also suggested that Trump open a Bible 'instead of brandishing it,' as the president did outside St. John's Church in Washington, after those peaceful protesters had been removed. The presumptive Democratic nominee recommended the president read the Constitution, particularly the First Amendment, too. 

'I will seek to heal the racial wounds that have long plagued this country – not use them for political gain,' the ex-vice president pledged.  

Biden spoke at Philadelphia's City Hall Tuesday - his first major address after the coronavirus pandemic left him broadcasting from his basement due to Delaware's stay-at-home order since mid-March. 

Joe Biden gave his first major address since the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday at Philadelphia's City Hall where he criticized President Trump for his racist rhetoric, narcissism and tear-gassing protesters in front of the White House Monday night 

'I can't breath. I can't breath,' Biden said. 'George Floyd's last words. But they didn't die with him. They're still being heard. They're echoing across this nation.' 

'They speak to a nation where every day millions of people – not at the moment of losing their life – but in the course of living their life – are saying to themselves, 'I can't breathe,'' Biden continued. 

Biden went on to condemn both the looting and destruction of property that's come as part of the unrest - and racist policing, pitching a number of remedies that could help root out problem officers, while noting that most do a good job. 

But then Biden turned to Trump's actions, especially those in the last 24 hours. 

'When peaceful protestors dispersed in order for a president, a president, from the doorstep of the people's house, the White House - using tear gas and flash grenades - in order to stage a photo op, a photo op, at one of the most historic churches in the country, or at least in Washington, D.C., we can be forgiven for believing that the president is more interested in power than in principle,' Biden said. 

'More interested in serving the passions of his base than the needs of the people in his care,' Biden said.  

'For that's what the presidency is,' Biden pointed out. 'The duty to care. To care for all of us, not just those who vote for us, but all of us. Not just our donors, but all of us.'  

During Trump's trek, he walked across Lafayette Park with a pack of government officials, and stood in front of St. John's Church, holding a Bible aloft. 

'I just wish he opened it once in awhile, instead of brandishing it. If he opened it he could have learned something: That we are all called to love one another as we love ourselves,' Biden said.  

Before walking out the front gates of the White House to the church, Trump declared in his Rose Garden address to the nation that he was leaving to 'pay my respects to a very, very special place.'

The visit was a clear photo-op, with him spending less than five minutes in front of the church and calling up members of his cabinet to stand by his side and face the media.

He was joined by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Attorney General Barr, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley was part of the entourage, but was not called up by the president to participate in the photo-op.

When he arrived in front of the church, he declared America the 'greatest country in the world' before holding up his bible for a picture.

He also asserted 'we're going to keep it [America] safe.'

A fire burned in the basement of St. John's Church Sunday night but the chapel was not affected, and it has been boarded up during the violent protests.

The church burned on Sunday as rioters descended on Lafayette Park where they lit American Flags on fire and confronted law enforcement and were tear gassed – other demonstrators also surrounded the White House.

Trump's appearance at St. John's marked the first time the president has publicly visited a church since June of 2019.

Every sitting president, with the exception of Richard Nixon, has attended the church at least once since it was built in 1816, starting with James Madison.

Trump was allegedly angry about news coverage that he fled into a White House bunker on Friday and was worried for his safety during George Floyd protests as riots broke out across Washington, D.C. – and hundreds of other cities across the country.

Trump told his aides that he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates, prompting his walk to St. Johns, according to CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlin Collins.

But his photo shoot triggered outrage from church leaders and rival politicians, and led Arlington County police to pull their officers out of the capital after they were used to charge at protesters.

Rector Gerbasi revealed in a shaken Facebook post that she and other Black Lives Matter organizers were passing out water and help to protesters alongside fellow clergy and laypeople, when police pushed out protesters with tear gas and non lethal bullets.

'That man turned it into a BATTLE GROUND first, and a cheap political stunt second,' Gerbasi wrote.

'Friends, I am ok, but I am, frankly shaken...Around 6:15 or 6:30, the police started really pushing protesters off of H Street...They started using tear gas and folks were running at us for eyewashes or water or wet paper towels,' she said.

She said she was appalled when she learned the clash with protesters was to clear the area for Trump.

'I literally COULD NOT believe it. We were driven off the patio at St. John's – a place of peace and respite and medical care throughout the day – so that man could have a photo opportunity in front of the church. People were hurt so he could pose in front of the church with a Bible,' she said.

Glenna Huber, a priest and rector with The Church of the Epiphany was also at the church aiding protesters when the police came and forced the crowd out.

'I'm horrified. Just moments before we were handing out snacks and water. There was some men singing on the steps. People were chanting and peacefully assembling. I left as the National Guard arrived. They sprayed tear gas. I was gone before the rubber bullets. And then the President spoke,' Hubber posted on Facebook.

Following the incident, Arlington County officials called their police out of Washington DC after their officers, armed in ACPD helmets and riot gear, assisted US Park officials in dispersing protesters near the church.

Arlington officials said they sent officers on Sunday following a mutual aid request from Park Police, but they did not know officers would be used to clash with protesters and have ordered their police back home.

'Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op. We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC,' County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night, about two hours after Trump's photo session.

'At the direction of the County Board, County Manager and Police Chief, ACPD officers have left the District. We are evaluating the agreements that allowed our officers to be put in a compromising position, which devalued the purpose of these mutual aid obligations,' County Board member Katie Cristol said. 

Officers with the Arlington County Police Department are pictured pushing back demonstrators outside of the White House, and these law enforcement officers were called out of Washington D.C.

'Appalled mutual aid agreement abused to endanger their and others safety for a photo op. We ordered @ArlingtonVaPD to immediately leave DC,' Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey tweeted Monday night, about two hours after Trump's photo session

Inside the White House, longtime Donald Trump aide Hope Hicks has been identified as having helped hatch the plan to have the president walk across the street from the White House to pose in front of St. John's church – staged event that police and National Guard forces facilitated by using tear gas and rubber bullets to clear away peaceful protesters.

The move was conceived as a way to allow Trump to demonstrate his self-proclaimed role as the 'law and order president' and – came after the president vowed to use the military to restore order in cities across the country. 

As a PR move it may have backfired, after global and national media broadcast images of sheild-bearing and mounted police using force to clear Lafayette Park, an area whose use as a forum for demonstrations and speech has long been protected. 

Hicks accompanied Trump as he walked across Lafayette Park to pose at the church. Media who accompanied them reported the taste of tear gas still lingering in the air.  

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had ordered a 7 pm curfew Monday, said she was 'shocked' that people who didn't seem to provoke attack were 'attacked' by federal law enforcement who cleared the way for Trump.

The walk outside the White House gates – the first as president by the heavily-guarded Trump – came after he had been confined at home for more than a day. 

Trump had been upset by the disclosure that Secret Service had taken him to bunker deep beneath the White House as police clashed with protesters Friday night, the Washington Post reported, and wondered why someone would disclose it to the press. 

Although he was not there long, it clashed with the image of strength Trump usually likes to put forward. 

Although Trump traveled to Florida to watch a rocket launch Saturday and addressed the death of George Floyd during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers, he had not been seen since a new wave of protest and violence erupted that night.   

Nancy Pelosi brandishes her OWN Bible as she slams Donald Trump for having peaceful protesters 'beaten'

Speaker Nancy Pelosi brandished her own bible on Tuesday to chastise President Donald Trump for having protesters 'beaten' so he could hold a photo-op in front of St. John's church.

The speaker held up her bible, in a counter to President Trump brandishing a bible on Monday afternoon, to read from Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, focusing on its message of a 'time to heal.'

'Let's focus from time to time to heal,' she said during an event in the U.S. Capitol. 'We have had as the role of President of the United States, role of commander of chief, a person who has a responsibility to heal.' 

Speaker Nancy Pelosi brandished her own bible on Tuesday to chastise President Donald Trump for having protesters 'beaten' so he could hold a photo-op

She cited the example of President George H.W. Bush's address during the LA riots during the 1990s in the wake of police officers being acquitted for using excessive force against Rodney King.

She quoted Bush's words: 'Those terrible scenes stir us all to demand an end to gratuitous violence and gratuitous brutality. Law enforcement officials cannot place themselves above the law that they are sworn to defend. It was sickening to see the beating that was rendered and there's no way, no way, in my view, to explain that away.' 

Pelosi then criticized President Trump after law enforcement officials used rubber bullets, tear gas and officers on horse back to clear out protesters so the president could leave the White House, Lafayette Park to pose with a bible in front of the historic St. Johns' Church, known as the Church of Presidents as every president since James Madison has prayed there.

'We would hope that the President of the United States would follow the lead of so many other presidents before has to be a healer in chief and not a fanner of the flame. Yesterday we saw a most unfortunate situation where before the curfew -the time of the curfew occurred - peaceful protesters in front of the White House were beaten so the president could come out and go forward. What is that? That has no place and it's time for us to do away with that. A time to heal,' she said.The president spoke in a televised speech from the Rose Garden on Monday evening and tear gas canisters could be heard exploding in the background before he walked over to the church and posed holding a Bible. 

The spectacle began on the Rose Garden when Trump claimed he's an ally of peaceful demonstrators but warned, 'I am your president of law and order.' 

After his speech he walked to the church for his photo shoot.      

The protesters in the area Monday evening appeared to be acting peacefully before they were forced out through the aggressive measures including rubber bullets, pepper spray, and tear gas. 

The Episcopal Bishop of Washington DC, Mariann Budde, slammed Trump for using force to push out George Floyd protesters and for posing in front of the embattled church. 

Bishop Budde said: 'I am outraged. I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call that they would be clearing with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop, holding a Bible, one that declares that God is love and when everything he has said and done is to enflame violence.' 

Budde said neither she nor the rector were told that authorities would be clearing protesters with tear gas, she said to the Washington Post.    

Trump called members of his cabinet, including U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr (left), National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien (second from left) and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany (right) up for the picture opportunity

The president pictured walking in Lafayette Park to visit St. John's church from the White House on Monday evening, he was flanked by members of his cabinet, aides, Secret Service and various members of the media

A U.S. Secret Service counter assault team member carries a sniper rifle through Lafayette Park as U.S. President Donald Trump holds a photo opportunity in front of St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House amid George Floyd protests 

She added: 'We so disassociate ourselves from the messages of this president. We hold the teachings of our sacred texts to be so so grounding to our lives and everything we do and it is about love of neighbor and sacrificial love and justice'.  

New York Andrew Cuomo slammed the president as 'shameful' for dispersing peaceful protesters for his own agenda

She appeared on CNN Monday evening bashing Trump's photo op as an 'abuse of a sacred symbol to justify an approach to this crisis that is antithetical to everything that we stand for.' 

The president posed for photographers, holding a Bible as he stood in front of the boarded-up 200-year-old church, that has been visited by every president since James Madison. 

'We have a great country. It won't take long. It's not going to take long to see what is going on. It's coming back, and it's coming back strong. It will be greater than ever before,' Trump said as the clamor of protesters, helicopters and explosions are heard in the background. 

Presidential candidate Joe Biden also condemned Trump's use of military action against protesters. 

'He's using the American military against the American people. He tear-gassed peaceful protesters and fired rubber bullets. For a photo. For our children, for the very soul of our country, we must defeat him. But I mean it when I say this: we can only do it together,' Biden tweeted Monday evening. 

Florida Rep. Val Demings tweeted: 'When we impeached this president, we warned that he was a dictator in waiting. I believe now what I believed then: this president is a threat to our democracy, our families, and to us.' 

New York Andrew Cuomo slammed the president as 'shameful' for using military force to disperse peaceful protesters for his own agenda. 

'The president is calling out the American military against American citizens. He used the military to push out a peaceful protest so he could have a photo op at a church. It's all just a reality TV show for this president. Shameful,' Cuomo tweeted Monday evening.  

CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlin Collins tweeted Trump was angry about news coverage that he fled into a White House bunker on Friday during George Floyd protests and told his aides he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates, prompting his walk to St. Johns

The president pictured pumping his first as he walks through a line of riot police in Lafayette Park across from the White House as he waked to St. John's church on Monday


By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy (a) Religious freedom, America's first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative. Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom. As stated in the 2017 National Security Strategy, our Founders understood religious freedom not as a creation of the state, but as a gift of God to every person and a right that is fundamental for the flourishing of our society.

(b) Religious communities and organizations, and other institutions of civil society, are vital partners in United States Government efforts to advance religious freedom around the world. It is the policy of the United States to engage robustly and continually with civil society organizations -- including those in foreign countries -- to inform United States Government policies, programs, and activities related to international religious freedom.

Sec. 2. Prioritization of International Religious Freedom. Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State (Secretary) shall, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), develop a plan to prioritize international religious freedom in the planning and implementation of United States foreign policy and in the foreign assistance programs of the Department of State and USAID.

Sec. 3. Foreign Assistance Funding for International Religious Freedom. (a) The Secretary shall, in consultation with the Administrator of USAID, budget at least $50 million per fiscal year for programs that advance international religious freedom, to the extent feasible and permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations. Such programs shall include those intended to anticipate, prevent, and respond to attacks against individuals and groups on the basis of their religion, including programs designed to help ensure that such groups can persevere as distinct communities; to promote accountability for the perpetrators of such attacks; to ensure equal rights and legal protections for individuals and groups regardless of belief; to improve the safety and security of houses of worship and public spaces for all faiths; and to protect and preserve the cultural heritages of religious communities.

(b) Executive departments and agencies (agencies) that fund foreign assistance programs shall ensure that faith-based and religious entities, including eligible entities in foreign countries, are not discriminated against on the basis of religious identity or religious belief when competing for Federal funding, to the extent permitted by law.

Sec. 4. Integrating International Religious Freedom into United States Diplomacy. (a) The Secretary shall direct Chiefs of Mission in countries of particular concern, countries on the Special Watch List, countries in which there are entities of particular concern, and any other countries that have engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom as noted in the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom required by section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (Public Law 105-292), as amended (the "Act"), to develop comprehensive action plans to inform and support the efforts of the United States to advance international religious freedom and to encourage the host governments to make progress in eliminating violations of religious freedom.

(b) In meetings with their counterparts in foreign governments, the heads of agencies shall, when appropriate and in coordination with the Secretary, raise concerns about international religious freedom and cases that involve individuals imprisoned because of their religion.

(c) The Secretary shall advocate for United States international religious freedom policy in both bilateral and multilateral fora, when appropriate, and shall direct the Administrator of USAID to do the same.

Sec. 5. Training for Public Officials. (a) The Secretary shall require all Department of State civil service employees in the Foreign Affairs Series to undertake training modeled on the international religious freedom training described in section 708(a) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (Public Law 96-465), as amended by section 103(a)(1) of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114-281).

(b) Within 90 days of the date of this order, the heads of all agencies that assign personnel to positions overseas shall submit plans to the President, through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, detailing how their agencies will incorporate the type of training described in subsection (a) of this section into the training required before the start of overseas assignments for all personnel who are to be stationed abroad, or who will deploy and remain abroad, in one location for 30 days or more.

(c) All Federal employees subject to these requirements shall be required to complete international religious freedom training not less frequently than once every 3 years.

Sec. 6. Economic Tools. (a) The Secretary and the Secretary of the Treasury shall, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, and through the process described in National Security Presidential Memorandum-4 of April 4, 2017 (Organization of the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and Subcommittees), develop recommendations to prioritize the appropriate use of economic tools to advance international religious freedom in countries of particular concern, countries on the Special Watch List, countries in which there are entities of particular concern, and any other countries that have engaged in or tolerated violations of religious freedom as noted in the report required by section 102(b) of the Act. These economic tools may include, as appropriate and to the extent permitted by law, increasing religious freedom programming, realigning foreign assistance to better reflect country circumstances, or restricting the issuance of visas under section 604(a) of the Act.

(b) The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, may consider imposing sanctions under Executive Order 13818 of December 20, 2017 (Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption), which, among other things, implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Public Law 114-328).

Sec. 7. Definitions. For purposes of this order: (a) "Country of particular concern" is defined as provided in section 402(b)(1)(A) of the Act;

(b) "Entity of particular concern" is defined as provided in section 301 of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114-281);

(c) "Special Watch List" is defined as provided in sections 3(15) and 402(b)(1)(A)(iii) of the Act; and

(d) "Violations of religious freedom" is defined as provided in section 3(16) of the Act.

Sec. 8. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or

(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.

(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

Donald J. Trump 

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