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Monday, July 13, 2020

Interfaith Leaders to Gather in Santa Monica in Response to Trump’s ‘Religious Stunt’

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Erin Ben-Moche
Erin is the Digital Content Manager at the Jewish Journal. She writes about Jewish art and culture.

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Los Angeles clergy and spiritual leaders plan to gather at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Santa Monica Wednesday, June 3 in response to what they argue is President Donald Trump using St. John’s Episcopal Church as a politicized photo opportunity rather than providing a unified message to the United States citizens.

On May 1, the U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops, with the use of tear gas, removed nonviolent protesters assembling by the D.C. church so that Trump could walk over to pose with a Bible.

“The President’s attempt to hijack the spiritual richness of America cannot go unanswered,”  Rabbi Neil Comess Daniels of Beth Shir Shalom said in a statement to the Journal. “We, clergy and lay leaders of many faiths in the Los Angeles region gather together to demonstrate what a true spiritual religious response to racial injustice looks like, provide some spiritual solace and highlight the values that call us to do all we can to fight racism.”

Comess Daniels organized the event in collaboration with The Santa Monica Area Interfaith Council, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice – Los Angeles (CLUE-LA) and The Guibord Center – Turning Religion Inside Out.

Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR; Pastor Eric Shafer of Mount Olive Lutheran Church; Jihad Turk of Bayan Claremont University; Pastor Art Cribbs; Rabbi Cantor Diane Rose and Dr. Lo Sprague of the Guibord Center are also planning to attend the small gathering.
Comess Daniels said the gathering will be filled with prayer and music while the clergy commits itself to fighting racism, police brutality and discussing what religious values and ideals can be used to relieve the situation. He added that for the safety of all, the event will be limited to clergy and leaders from spiritual communities without clergy.

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