Wed 3 Jun 2020
Donald Trump holds a Bible outside St John’s church across Lafayette Park from the White House on Monday. Photograph: Patrick Semansky/AP
No one accuses Donald Trump of subtlety. When the US president raised a Bible overhead on Monday evening outside St John’s Episcopal church in Washington DC, the sign was unmistakable: an appeal to his white evangelical base for loyalty, as protests and riots roared across America.
Not every Christian answered the call. The Rev Gini Gerbasi, an Episcopal priest, said police used teargas to drive her and others from St John’s before Trump’s appearance. “They turned holy ground into a battleground,” she told Religion News Service.
But many of Trump’s evangelical supporters, far from Washingtons political stage, saw the move as a victory in a world rife with evil
“My whole family was flabbergasted,” said Benjamin Horbowy, 37.
The Horbowys had gathered in Tallahassee, Florida, to watch live as Trump walked from the White House to St John’s. “My mother just shouted out, ‘God give him strength! He’s doing a Jericho walk!’”
A Jericho walk, in some evangelical circles, refers to the biblical book of Joshua, where God commanded the Israelites to walk seven times around the opposing city of Jericho, whose walls then came crashing down.
Horbowy already supported Trump politically – he heads the local chapter of a pro- Trump motorcycle club and is campaigning for a seat in Florida’s state senate – but when Trump lifted the Bible, Horbowy and his family felt overcome spiritually.