HRC and 100+ Faith Leaders Condemn Trump’s Abuse of Sacred Symbols

by Madeleine Roberts

HRC released a letter, joined by more than 100 prominent faith leaders, condemning Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the Trump-Pence administration

HRC released a letter, joined by more than 100 prominent faith leaders, condemning Donald Trump, Mike Pence and the Trump-Pence administration’s failure to denounce racism and the epidemic of violence against Black people, as well as their use of religious symbols as props. The letter is written on behalf of faith communities across the U.S. and is signed by over 100 prominent faith leaders. 

“Donald Trump’s use of force against peaceful protestors in order to stage a photo op -- holding a Bible that was not his, in front of a church he was not welcome in -- is only the latest incident of offensive and authoritarian actions that have come to represent the Trump-Pence administration,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “The abuse of religious symbols is an affront to people of all religions and faiths everywhere. As faith and civil rights leaders, we are united to fight back against all forms of oppression and injustice. The core pillars of faith traditions across the world are equity and justice, principles that the Trump-Pence administration has failed to uphold in every way. Their disregard for the lives of Black people, people of color and all marginalized communities is morally reprehensible, an affront to the oaths they took, and will be rebuked on election day.” 

The letter, which can be found at this link, reads in full:

President Trump, Vice President Pence and Administration:

On behalf of faith communities across the United States, we are writing in response to your failure to condemn the plague of white supremacy and anti-Blackness that has been woven into the fabric of this country since its inception. 

As faith leaders representing a diverse group of spiritual and religious traditions, we are unified in our commitment to justice, equity and liberation for all peoples. However, the Black and Brown community in particular has been subject to centuries of brutality and terror at the hands of the state. The recent violent killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Arbery are just a few recent examples of an ongoing tradition of violence against Black people in the United States. 

This epidemic of violence against the Black community must end. We demand justice.

Speaking specifically to President Trump: While your continued inaction on the work of justice for the oppressed and disinherited -- a core tenant of the Christian faith you claim to hold, and of all faith traditions -- is deeply disappointing, it is unfortunately not surprising. 

Your vicious, hateful rhetoric and actions against Black and Brown communities are not new. And though you claim to be a person of faith, your actions betray the values held by people of faith across the world: tolerance, love, inclusivity and justice.

Your recent abuse of sacred symbols -- namely, violently attacking peaceful protestors for the purpose of a photo op with a Bible outside of an unconsenting church in Washington, D.C. – goes beyond simple disregard and contempt for ecclesial leadership and the faith communities that worship at those holy sites. Your actions were an assault on the fundamental ethics of justice that those sites represent, and the human dignity they strive to defend. At the heart of every spiritual tradition is an ethic of justice. The witness of your life, as well as your tenure as President of the United States, could not be more oppugnant to this ethic. 

We condemn your ongoing support for white supremacy and anti-Blackness and find your actions an anathema to the communities of faith that we represent. We call on you to repent, turn away from evil and injustice and move to enacting comprehensive justice for the Black community.

We declare with our voices, our lives and our ministries that Black Lives Matter, and will do everything in our power for the defense of Black lives. We demand that you and your administration do the same. 



Aleidra Allen, Founder, Black Greeks for Black Lives

Lexi Baysinger, MSEd, Faith For Justice

Rev. Traci Blackmon, United Church of Christ

Rev. Tiffany Brooks, Deacon

Alphonso David, President, Human Rights Campaign

Rev. Fred Davie, Executive Vice President, Union Theological Seminary

Bishop Yvette Flunder, Presiding Bishop, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries

Rev. Darrell Goodwin, United Church of Christ

Rev. Cedric A. Harmon, Executive Director, Many Voices: A Black Church Movement for Gay & Transgender Justice

Lisa Sharon Harper, President, Freedom Road

Terrance Hawkins, Founder, Drum Majors Alliance 

Rev. Susan Henderson, United Church of Christ

Andre Henry, Program Manager, Evangelicals for Social Action

Rev. Michelle Higgins, Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) + Faith for Justice

Dr. Mike Higgins, Pastor, South City Church

Rev. Gabrielle Kennedy, Pastor, Burden Chapel AME Church

Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church

Rev. Michael-Ray Mathews, Deputy Director, Faith in Action

Bishop James L. Mills, Sr., First Congregational Church of Fair Haven, VT, United Church of Christ

Michael Milton, Co-Director, Faith for Justice

Rev. Otis Moss III, Senior Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Darren Phelps, Senior Pastor, Disciples of Christ

Rev. James D. Ross II, Pastor, Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ

Fr. Martini Shaw, Rector, Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas

Rev. Aaron Tinch, Rivers of Life AME Church

Bishop Joseph Tolton, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries-Global

Rev. Dr. Emilie Townes, Dean, Vanderbilt Divinity School

Pedro Valentin, St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church

Rev. Andrea Vassell, United Church of Christ + The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries

Rev. Sean M. Watkins, Four A Consulting

Venneikia Williams, Principal & Project Director, Sanctuary Consulting

Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams, Founding Spiritual Director, Transformative Change

Wajahat Ali, Contributing Op-Ed Writer, New York Times

Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter, Presbytery of Cincinnati

Professor Imam Abdullah Antepli, Associate Professor of the Practice of Interfaith Relations, Duke University

Rev. Andrea Asselmeier, Pastor, United Church of Christ

Kathy Baldock, Canyonwalker Connections

Edward Barker, New Life Church, Colorado Springs

Grant Barnes, Youth Pastor, Peoples Church

Rev. Bonnie Beckonchrist, Retired Clergy, United Methodist Church

Jonathan R. Brander, United Church of Christ

Rev. Wendy Bruner, Pastor, Peace United Church of Christ

Rev. Jennifer Butler, President, Faith in Public Life

Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice

Rev. Shaye L. Champ-Correl, Disciples of Christ

Rev. Andrew Cheung, Washington Community Fellowship

Chan Ik Choi, Pastor, Urban Village Church

Stosh Cotler, CEO, Bend the Arc

Rev. Alice Connor, The Edge House Campus Ministry

Christian Coon, Pastor of Emerging Ministries, Urban Village Church

Danny Cortez, Estuary Space

Rev. Dr. Chris Davies, United Church of Christ

Norm Davey, Elder

Josh Dickson, Colorado Faithful Democrats

Rabbi Denise Eger, Congregation Kol Ami

Rev. Kristin Aardema Faigh, Zion United Church of Christ

Rev. Dr. Susan Fredrick-Gray, President, Unitarian Universalist Association

Rev. Dr. Justin Fung, Pastor of Leadership & Spiritual Formation, Christ City Church

Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli

Rev. Barbara Gerlach, Minister, United Church of Christ

Erwin F. Goedicke, Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Cincinnati 

Mitchell Gold, Spiritual Activist

Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, Fellow, Center for American Progress

Erin Green, Co-Executive Director, Brave Commons

William Edward Green, Associate Pastor, Foundry United Methodist Church

Rev. Dr. Allen Grothe, Pastor, United Church of Christ

Dr. Sharon Groves, Vice President Partner Engagement, Auburn Seminary

Christopher Grundy, Associate Professor of Preaching and Worship, Eden Theological Seminary

Rev. Dr. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, President, Auburn Seminary

Rev. Tina Hubert, Director of Faith Formation, Knox Presbyterian Church

Nathan Davis Hunt, For Shalom

Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights

Rev. Hannah Kardon, Urban Village Church

Valerie Kaur, Founder, Revolutionary Love Project

David W. Key, Sr., Founding Pastor, Lake Oconee Community Church

Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington Director, Bend the Arc Action

Michael J. Kimpan, Executive Director, (Un)Common Good Collective

Rabbi Rachel Kobrin, Congregation Rodef Shalom

Sr. Anna Koop, Denver Catholic Worker

Deborah Krause, Eden Theological Seminary

Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Shir Tikvah Congregation

Kathryn A. Lee, Ph.D., J.D., Whitworth University

Brian McLaren, Author

Emily McGinley, Executive Pastor, Urban Village Church

Mark Miller, Pastor, Westminster Presbyterian Church, St. Louis

Rev. Emma Nickel, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Royal Oak, Presbytery of Detroit

Doug Pagitt, Executive Director, Vote Common Good

Steven J. Park, President and Executive Director, Little Lights Urban Ministries

Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Joy Metropolitan Community Church

Rev. Dr. Adam Ployd, Eden Theological Seminary

Jana Reister, Associate Pastor, Knox Presbyterian Church

Rev. Brandan J. Robertson, Lead Pastor, Missiongathering Christian Church

Bishop Gene Robinson, The Episcopal Church

Carlos A. Rodriguez, CEO, The Happy Non-Profit

Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg, Author

Shannon E. Y. Sanker, Family Pastor, University Christian Church

Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder, MPowered Change

Joshua Scott, Head Pastor, GracePointe Church

Rev. Janet Sheppard, Associate Minister, Trinity Baptist Church Columbus, Ohio

Maggie Siddiqi, Director, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress

Rev. Christine Slizewski Tennyson, United Church of Christ

Lauren Sotolongo Co-Executive Director, Brave Commons

Drew Smith, College Hill Presbyterian Church

Mandy Smith, Pastor, University Christian Church

Mindy Smith, Associate Director Office of Church Engagement, Whitworth University

Kevin C. Stainton, Pastor,  Heritage Presbyterian Church

Erica St. Bernard, Your Life's Well, LLC

Dr. Robert Taber, Co-Chair, Latter-day Saint Democrats of America

Sandy Taylor, Christ Congregational Church

Mark Tidd, Co-Pastor, Highlands Church Denver

Ms. Sue Torfin, Faithful Democrats

Rev. Rebecca Turner, Christ UCC, Maplewood, MO

Rev. Louisa W. Umphres, Presbyterian Church (USA)

Rev. Thomas Van Brunt, Chaplain, Episcopal Church

Rev. Robert E. Van Ess, Holy Trinity Community Church, Memphis

AnaYelsi Velasco-Sanchez, Founder, En Conjunto

Rev. Kealani Nunes Willbanks, Administrator, Foundry United Methodist Church

Jonathan Williams, Lead Pastor, Forefront Church NYC

Paula Stone Williams, Pastor, RLT Pathways

Rev. Seth Wispelwey, Pastor, Rincon Congregation, United Church of Christ

Ryan Zhang, Assistant Pastor, New City Presbyterian Church

James Zogby, Arab American Institute 

Ani Zonneveld, President, Muslims for Progressive Value