A White House staff member gestures to move the press corps back as President Donald Trump walks between lines of police for a photo opportunity at St John's Church. June 1, 2020. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Last night, Donald Trump used and abused a church, and a Bible, as presidential props for a photo-op. In a violent and authoritarian act, the president of the United States took the space of a church and used a picture of a Bible to make a political move.


As we pass the horrifying milestone of 100,000 American deaths to the coronavirus, we’re using the hashtag #Lament100k to urge people to pause — to lament.

Robert P. Jones 5-29-2020

Volunteers hand out hand sanitizer and masks at Christ the King United Church of Christ, where five members of its 180-member congregation had gotten sick from coronavirus disease and two have died, in Florissant, Mo., May 22, 2020. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

I was never concerned that there could be consequences for crossing a main road that separated our immediate neighborhood from the adjacent one, or that the Confederate flags I passed along my route might be intended as a “no trespassing” sign for people who looked like me. I wasn’t Ahmaud. Scores of childhood friends donned camo and lugged military-style toy rifles from yard to yard as we replayed World War II battles. No one worried a police officer, or a neighborhood vigilante, patrolling our streets would mistake us for a real threat. We weren’t Tamir Rice or Trayvon Martin.

Dante Stewart 5-29-2020

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

I can remember when it first happened — when my dungeon shook and my chains fell off. I had recently gone through a horrible experience and felt there was nowhere to turn, no one who could give voice to my ache, my pain, and my rage.

Yet history repeats itself – leaders are sacrificing lives to ensure an "uninterrupted food supply." These meat and poultry plants, just like cotton fields once were, have been deemed "critical infrastructure" to the nation's economy.

Soong-Chan Rah 5-29-2020

Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis. May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller

Remember, Lord, what happened to Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd;
          look and see the disgraceful way their bodies were treated.
Our inheritance of the image of God in every human being
          has been co-opted and denied by others.

Soong-Chan Rah 5-29-2020

A view of One World Trade Center and lower Manhattan from The Green-Wood Cemetery, during the outbreak of the coronavirus in Brooklyn. May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The need for lament could not be more urgent. The painful reality of the loss of more than 100,000 American lives requires the response of lament. However, a genuine corporate lament seems to have eluded many Americans, even those in the church. Lament is a biblical practice that has been long-neglected in the American church.

Rohadi Nagassar 5-28-2020

Lament, much like our understanding of salvation, ties my suffering with those around me. Christian traditions too distant from experiences of collective marginalization will have trouble penning laments about deliverance from shared sorrow. We need practices of solidarity that reveal those who are unseen in our world starting with the cries in our worship, followed by the witness in our deeds. Yet laments that do not incorporate the collective experience fail to produce practices that could help us survive in spaces of vulnerability and communal loss.

Jim Wallis 5-27-2020

A small group attends a graveside service at the State Veterans Cemetery amid the coronavirus outbreak in Middletown, Conn., May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder/File Photo

As we passed the horrifying milestone of 100,000 American deaths to the coronavirus, we’ve started using the hashtag #Lament100k to urge people to pause — to lament. Of course, the sentiment falls short. As a friend said to me, we can’t abbreviate all these lives; we have to try to feel all one hundred thousand of them.

Image via Shutterstock/Pasquale Senatore

2. Do we understand how church life is inherently different than other expressions of civic life?

While many of the businesses that have stayed open, or are being authorized to reopen, are inherently transactional, what happens in churches in inherently social and relational. We eat together; we sing together; we embrace one another; we care for one another’s children. These familiar patterns have been ingrained in us through years of meeting together, and will be challenging for many to shake even when we know the risk and have a plan in place.

Kaitlin Curtice 5-27-2020

Protesters gather at the scene where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was arrested by police officers before dying in hospital in Minneapolis. May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller

We are so troubled.
We are the ones in denial of our violence
and we are the ones who are crying out for justice.
Can you feel us shaking?

Flowers are seen at the site where George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was pinned down by a police officer kneeling on his neck before later dying in hospital in Minneapolis. May 26, 2020. REUTERS/Eric Miller

I can’t breathe.

These were George Floyd’s desperate cries for help as he gasped for breath and clung to life due to the senseless brutality of four police officers in Minneapolis, one of whom, Derek Chauvin, had his knee and weight crushing Floyd’s neck.

Jim Wallis 5-21-2020

Image via Shutterstock/Michael Scott Milner

The COVID-19 pandemic has now laid bare what is still “acceptable” to white America, including many white churches. The unequal suffering of this plague has been verified by the statistics. 

Melissa Cedillo 5-21-2020

When I began my time at Harvard Divinity School, I considered using my degree towards becoming a prison chaplain. But the more I learned about the exploitation of incarcerated people, their families, and their communities, I realized the pursuit of this ministry must be done in a way that does not reinforce the prison-industrial complex

Randall Balmer 5-20-2020

Anti-Evolution League at the Scopes Trial. Dayton, Tenn. From Literary Digest, July 25, 1925

Symbolically, the Scopes Trial on teaching evolution was a turning point.

Matthew L. Watley 5-20-2020

B-24 Liberator bombers nearing completion on the assembly line at the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation plant in Fort Worth, Texas. 1942.

What is needed now, as always, is real moral leadership.

Kaeley McEvoy 5-19-2020

Photo courtesy FX's 'Mrs. America' trailer

One of the biggest gleanings from Mrs. America is that women and their motivations for power are complicated and far from monolithic.

Photo by Jake Gard on Unsplash

COVID-19 reveals the artificiality of the urban/rural divide. 

Jes Kast 5-18-2020

Protesters gather outside the warehouse of medical equipment distributor Owens & Minor prior to a visit by Donald Trump in Allentown, Pa, May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Freedom is about how do we humbly care for one another.

Fragment of the face of a terracotta statue of Apollo Roman beginning of 3rd century BCE. Original image courtesy of Mary Harrsch. Edited by Candace Sanders. 

Burton and Dreher share similar aesthetic views about Christianity and the past.