The clergy of Washington National Cathedral sounds like they’re auditioning to host a show on CNN, having forfeited their moral authority by egregiously politicizing it.
In an apparent ploy to snag some attention from President Trump’s recent tweets calling out the deplorable conditions in parts of Baltimore, the leaders of that iconic religious institution issued a statement that amounted to a verbose scolding of every Trump supporter in the country.
The letter signed by Mariann Budde, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; Randolph Hollerith, Dean of Washington National Cathedral; and Kelly Douglas, the cathedral’s Canon Theologian is functionally indistinguishable from the rantings we’ve been hearing Democratic officials and cable news pundits all week.
The attack is not only out of place, it is also patently false and absurd. They write that the president “condemned the residents of an entire American city.”
President Trump did no such thing. He decried, in a manner absolutely justified, the deteriorated conditions with which those residents of Cimmings’ district in Baltimore are forced to contend. He did so in language that, while heated, is no different than the terms that Democrats — including President Obama and Representative Elijah Cummings himself — have used to describe Baltimore for decades.
Using practically the same language as CNN hosts and DNC press releases, the letter blatantly and deceitfully misrepresented the President’s use of the word “infested,” claiming that he was referring to the residents of Baltimore, when even a cursory reading of the original tweets makes perfectly clear that he was referring to the rats that infest depressed neighborhoods because Democratic elected officials have done nothing to fix the deplorable conditions that face city residents daily.
The only place these smears and lies sit comfortably are on the airwaves of liberal punditry and in the newsrooms of the liberal press. To hear them from the pulpit of the most iconic cathedral in America is the wrong debate from the right church.
In betraying their duty to the country and to their congregants, these clergy invoke the memory of U.S. Army attorney Joseph Welch who asked Senator Joseph McCarthy if he had “no sense of decency” when he falsely accused dozens of military men of being communist spies.
The analogy would be more appropriate in reverse.
It’s this triumvirate of radical clergy that obviously has no sense of decency. As senior leaders of the faith practiced by a large proportion of the founding fathers, they have a duty to serve more than just their personal political beliefs. Their own church’s founding bishops fought tirelessly for the constitutional separation of church and state in order to avoid this very type of corrupt alliance between church authority and partisan interests.
The National Cathedral also stands as perhaps the greatest symbol of American Christianity — the place America lays her presidents to rest — and its clergy therefore have an obligation to keep themselves above the political fray. The sacred structure over which they preside was not endowed by generations of Americans so that it could be one day be used to amplify the momentary messaging of one political party.
Sadly, this is not the first time the leadership of the National Cathedral abused their position to advance a nakedly Democratic agenda. Just last year, for example, they allowed their hallowed sanctuary to serve as the venue for a pro-gun control rally by David Hogg’s “March for Our Lives.”
The wider issues within the dwindling ranks of the Episcopal Church are outside the scope of this incident. Suffice it to say, however, that the national leadership of this organization may wish to remember antics such as this letter when they ponder what has driven tens of thousands of their congregants, hundreds of their parishes, and even several entire dioceses to disassociate from them.
Religious leaders are supposed to provide spiritual guidance and moral authority in a chaotic and confusing world. The clergy of the National Cathedral are no longer credible in the performance of either function because they’ve chosen instead to use their positions to advance partisan talking points expected on fake news cable TV channels but not the nation’s cathedral.
Paula White is the senior pastor of New Destiny Christian Center.