June 2, 2020
Watching the scene unfold at the White House last night was gut wrenching. Right on cue, as President Trump called for law enforcement to dominate America’s streets, police fired teargas and rubber bullets into a nearby crowd of peaceful demonstrators to clear his path to Saint John’s Episcopal Church where he posed for a photo op. Intending to pay homage to the church damaged Sunday night by fire, instead he abused both the church and the Bible he held in his hand.
Twice in ten days President Trump has employed houses of worship as political props: first, to placate his evangelical base calling for churches, synagogues, and mosques to reopen regardless of local safety considerations; and now again to paint his authority over protestors with a patina of religious devotion.
Racial injustice long predates our current President. It is woven into the warp and weft of our country. The Maggid of Mezeritch taught that unwinding one reality and weaving it into another can be tumultuous. But even as we decry the violence of the marginal few, we draw hope from the American awakening we may at last be witnessing. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Dr. King observed: “When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.”
May it be so.
Rabbi Joshua M. Davidson