WASHINGTON, DC – The meeting that was scheduled for today at 11 AM at the White House between President Donald Trump and U.S. religious leaders, including His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America was canceled.
Archbishop Elpidophoros would have traveled to Washington for the meeting, however, His Eminence will continue with his previously posted schedule.
The cancellation of the meeting comes on the heels of Trump's visit on June 1 to St. John's Church in Washington, DC which was set on fire during protests the previous night. The visit has drawn criticism from many, including the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, the Rev. Mariann Budde, whose diocese St. John's belongs to. Rev. Budde said in a statement that she was “outraged” by Trump's visit and noted that he didn't pray while stopping by the church, a landmark known for its regular visits from sitting presidents since the early 19th century.
Budde said Trump didn't inform the Diocese about his visit to the church. Asked if he is a frequent worshipper at the church, Budde responded, "No, never. The only time that President Trump has been at St. John's church as president was on the morning of his inauguration.”
Father James Martin, a prominent Jesuit priest and author, said in a statement to NBC News, "Using the Bible as a prop while talking about sending in the military, bragging about how your country is the greatest in the world, and publicly mocking people on a daily basis, is pretty much the opposite of all Jesus stood for."
He added, "Let me be clear. This is revolting. The Bible is not a prop. A church is not a photo op. Religion is not a political tool. And God is not a plaything.”
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.