President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) Donald Trump
President Donald Trump holds a Bible as he visits outside St. John's Church across Lafayette Park from the White House Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. Part of the church was set on fire during protests on Sunday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A reporter asked the president on Monday if the Bible he was holding belonged to him. Trump replied: “It’s a Bible.”

President Trump’s wielding of the good book outside St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House on Monday has been met with a congregation of both praise and criticism.

“Is that your Bible?” a reporter asked.

“It’s a Bible,” the president replied.

Although Trump held the sacred text like a foreign object, the commander-in-chief is no stranger to carrying the Bible with him—especially during speeches. “I brought my Bible,” he’s told crowds numerous times over the years.

He’s also proclaimed the Bible is his favorite book—his second favorite is his very own “Art of the Deal.” Paying it forward, he once signed the Bible of a 10-year-old girl in Alabama as he toured tornado damage in 2018. 

Yet, for a man of faith to have an unwavering love for the word of God, Trump has often been unable, or reluctant, to recite a verse from the book. In a 2015 interview with Bloomberg Politics, Trump explained why. “Because to me that’s very personal,” the president said. “You know, when I talk about the Bible it’s very personal so I don’t want to get into verses. … The Bible means a lot to me but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

When asked if he’s a bigger fan of the Old Testament or the New Testament, Trump said he’s “probably equal.”

“I think it’s just incredible, the whole Bible is incredible,” he added.

In April 2016, Trump eventually revealed his favorite Bible verse. WHAM 1180 radio host Bob Lonsberry asked the president, “Is there a favorite Bible verse or Bible story that has informed your thinking or your character through life?” 

Trump responded: “Well, I think many. I mean, when we get into the Bible, I think many, so many. And some people, look, an eye for an eye, you can almost say that. That’s not a particularly nice thing. But you know, if you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, when you see what’s going on with our country, how people are taking advantage of us, and how they scoff at us and laugh at us. And they laugh at our face, and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be firm and have to be very strong. And we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you.”

Some called Monday’s Bible photo-op a publicity stunt, but the moment was also widely viewed as a nod to his Christian base, a group that will be key to his re-election. Many religious leaders, however, slammed the visit as well as the president’s overall response to the George Floyd protests.

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As Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde, who oversees St. John’s Church, told CNN, the event was “a charade.” 

“Let me be clear: he did not come to pray. He did not come to express remorse or consolation, he did not come to share the grief or to provide hope to the thousands of young people who are gathered in the park that day,” she said.