President Donald Trump visited on March 8, 2019 the Alabama town ravaged by the most deadly tornado that hit the country in six years.
Together with first lady Melania Trump, the president met with the survivors in Beauregard after the rural town lost 23 of its residents, reports Australian news service ABC News.
Though we don’t have a national faith, there is faith in our nation, and so it’s not at all surprising that people would have politicians sign their Bibles. —Hershael York, dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary School of Theology in Louisville, KY
As Trump was assessing the damage caused by the tornado that hit the town on March 3, the 10-year-old daughter of a volunteer went to the president and asked him to sign her Bible.
“She just reached out there and said, ‘Mr President, would you sign this?” said volunteer Emily Pike.
Trump signed the cover of the child’s Bible, and her friend’s.
Many criticized Trump’s signing the religious scripture, saying book signing should only be done by the book’s author. Netizens were quick to make fun of the president, calling him ‘arrogant’ and a ‘hypocrite.’
Rev. Donnie Anderson, executive minister of the Rhode Island State Council of Churches, was offended by Trump’s gesture to console the survivors, reports Philippine Daily Inquirer. She claimed that it was a “calculated, political move.”
She added that, “For me, the Bible is a very important part of my faith, and I don’t think it should be used as a political ploy.”
Another religious leader, Cassiday-Maloney, pastor at the First Congregational United Church of Christ in Fargo, North Dakota, said “It almost felt like a desecration of the holy book to put his signature on the front writ large, literally.”
However, Hershael York, dean of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary School of Theology in Louisville, Kentucky, saw nothing wrong with the Bible signing. He said the president just complied with a survivor’s request.
York said, “Though we don’t have a national faith, there is faith in our nation, and so it’s not at all surprising that people would have politicians sign their Bibles.” He explained that, “Those Bibles are meaningful to them and apparently these politicians are, too.”
James Coffin, executive director of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, added that, “Too much is being made out of something that doesn’t deserve that kind of attention.”