I dislike the fact that peaceful protesters were forcibly removed from a Washington park just so that the President of the United States could have a photo op with a Bible in front of a church.
This action was deplorably insensitive and flamboyantly hypocritical, even for President Trump.
Seeing a man who could hardly be less like Christ if he tried proudly brandishing a Bible for a photoshoot to try to demonstrate his unimpeachable authority while his country is literally burning against the sort of racism and injustice that he has encouraged makes me feel uncomfortable.
What makes me even more uncomfortable is that I have seen more Christians condemn Trump’s use of the Bible for a political powerplay than they have Derek Chauvin’s use of excessive force that killed George Floyd.
This does not seem right.
Are we seriously more concerned with protecting our own public image than we are that a man made in God’s image had his life crushed out of him by a police officer whilst others watched idly by and that this is just one of the many reflections of the systemic racism deeply rooted into the world we inhabit?
We will all raise our voices when a man we don’t like holds the Bible for a reason he shouldn’t, but somehow when a man is killed because of the colour of his skin we can’t all find the right words to say?
Please hear me: of course it matters that the gospel is preached and properly explained. I passionately care that the person and work of the Christ we follow are presented in the best way possible.
But in this instance, we don’t need to say that President Trump does not stand for all Christians: we need to show what true Christians do stand for.
It is good that we know that President Trump is not a good reflection of Jesus, and it is good that we call out his obscure religious grandstanding. However, with everything that is going on in our world right now, how can we stop at just that?
If we think we are defending the faith by condemning President Trump, yet we won’t take an even harder stand against racism, then we have failed to defend the faith.
How can we be more embarrassed that someone held up the Bible in a photo shoot than we are disturbed at the fact that yet again someone was killed because they were black?
Nobody right now (or ever) needs or wants Christians who are simply interested in polishing up their own public perception.
We have done a very good job of contributing to the world’s mess; at some point it might be an idea to lend a hand in cleaning it up.
Where is the Church with a fire in its belly for justice? Where are the people of God who audaciously and unadulteratedly love all people? And where is the royal priesthood that is determined to get a head-start on the work of restoring creation (work which we know God Himself will soon finish)?
Right now, it is less important who holds the Bible than who actually listens to it and who lives out its gospel message.
We should be hearing these words a lot at the moment, and I pray that some point soon we will also start to see their embodiment: “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 5:24)
It’s easy to scream at Trump, but the work of making a more just world must start with us.
Archie Catchpole is a student at London School of Theology.