Leaders of the Washington National Cathedral slammed President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on minority lawmakers and the city of Baltimore as a “dangerous” rallying cry to white supremacist violence.
The statement from the Right Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral; and the Rev. Canon Kelly Brown Douglas, canon theologian of Washington National Cathedral, condemned Trump’s tweets.
“When such violent dehumanizing words come from the President of the United States, they are a clarion call, and give cover, to white supremacists who consider people of color a sub-human ‘infestation’ in America,” the statement read.
“They serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation,” they added. “Violent words lead to violent actions.”
The comments come following a slew of weekend tweets from Trump attacking House Oversight Committee chairman and civil rights icon Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings and his Maryland district, which includes Baltimore.
“If he spent more time in Baltimore, maybe he could help clean up this very dangerous & filthy place,” Trump tweeted, alleging that Cummings’ “district is considered the Worst in the USA” and “no human being would want to live there.”
Earlier this month, the President also told four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color – three of whom were born in the US and the fourth being a naturalized US citizen – to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
The Washington-based Episcopal cathedral – one of the capital’s pre-eminent religious institutions that identifies itself as “the sacred space where America gathers at moments of national significance”– rarely wades into partisan politics.
But the group said that it was moved to act after Trump “crossed another threshold,” likening the previous week’s comments to McCarthyism – a “similarly dark period in our history.”
“Not only did he insult a leader in the fight for racial justice and equality for all persons; not only did he savage the nations from which immigrants to this country have come; but now he has condemned the residents of an entire American city,” the leaders said, adding, “Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous.”
This isn’t the first time that Trump and National Cathedral leadership have clashed. In March, Trump professed that he “had to approve” late Sen. John McCain’s funeral plans held at the historic church – which the group was quick to correct.
“All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased; only a state funeral for a former president involves consultation with government officials,” wrote Kevin Eckstrom, the cathedral’s chief communications officer, in a statement. “No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the President or any other government official.”
The National Cathedral joins several other area clergy in condemning Trump’s comments. Baltimore Archbishop William Lori tweeted Saturday that “it saddens me to see Baltimore severely denigrated by President Trump,” adding that the people of Baltimore “deserve the support of elected officials and their fellow citizens.”
The Ecumenical Leaders’ Group of Maryland, which includes leaders of the state’s Christian communities, sent Trump a letter calling his tweets on Baltimore “horrible, demeaning and beneath the dignity of a political leader who should be encouraging us all to strive and work for a more civil, just and compassionate society.”
“Stop putting people down,” the group added. “Enough of the harmful rhetoric that angers and discourages the people and communities you are called to serve – more than you know.”
CNN’s Daniel Burke, Devan Cole and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.