Nancy Pelosi wields Bible, quotes Bush, Obama in response to Trump

Employing a Bible at a Capitol Hill news conference Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on President Trump to be a “healer in chief” as violence and looting continued in cities across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd.

The San Francisco Democrat was speaking one day after Trump had held up a Bible while defending religious freedom outside St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House -- just hours after part of the church burned during a night of rioting in the nation’s capital.

Pelosi’s remarks included quoting from the book of Ecclesiastes, and from comments by former presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama, as they reacted to incidents similar to the death of Floyd, who died May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis.

PELOSI CALLS ON TRUMP TO FOCUS ON 'UNIFYING OUR COUNTRY' DURING UNREST OVER GEORGE FLOYD DEATH

The speaker read the Bush and Obama quotes from notes placed inside the Bible, as if the past leaders’ words, too, were from the Good Book.

“There’s an appointed time for everything,” Pelosi began, referring to Ecclesiastes.

“’A time for every event under heaven. … A time to heal, a time to embrace and a time to shun embracing’ – how about that?” she said.

“Let’s focus on a time to heal,” Pelosi continued, adding that U.S. presidents have “a responsibility to heal.”

“We would hope that the president of the United States would follow the lead of so many presidents before him to be a healer in chief and not a fanner of the flame.”

“We would hope that the president of the United States would follow the lead of so many presidents before him to be a healer in chief and not a fanner of the flame.”

— House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi, still holding the Bible with notes papers inside it, then read a statement Bush made following the video showing the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991.

“Those terrible scenes stir us all to demand an end to gratuitous violence and brutality,” Pelosi quoted Bush as saying. “Law-enforcement officials cannot place themselves above the law that they are sworn to defend. It was sickening to see the beating that was rendered and there's no way, no way in my view, to explain that away. It was outrageous."

She then quoted Obama, from a statement he made in 2014, following the death of Eric Garner while in police custody in New York City in 2014.

Right now, unfortunately, we are seeing too many instances where people just do not have confidence that folks are being treated fairly,” Pelosi read, quoting the former president. “And in some cases, those may be misperceptions; but in some cases, that’s a reality.

“And it is incumbent upon all of us, as Americans, regardless of race, region, faith, that we recognize this is an American problem, and not just a black problem or a brown problem or a Native American problem,” the quote continued. “This is an American problem. When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law, that’s a problem.”

Pelosi later criticized the use of U.S. military police to clear out protesters so Trump and his entourage from the White House could safely walk to St. John’s Church from the White House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reads from the Bible, as she reacts to President Trump during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 2, 2020. (Associated Press)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., reads from the Bible, as she reacts to President Trump during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 2, 2020. (Associated Press)

“Some people came out and beat them so they could clear the area so the president could come out and go forward,” Pelosi said. “What is that? That has no place and it’s time for us to do away with that.”

Other Democrats and celebrities also criticized Trump’s Monday gesture outside St. John’s, with many dismissing it as a “photo op” rather than a defense of religious freedom.

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On Tuesday, the president doubled down on his commitment to religious freedom with an executive order that a senior administration official told Fox News was meant to protect “people of faith around the world.” 

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. (Associated Press)

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump visit Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Tuesday, June 2, 2020, in Washington. (Associated Press)

“This executive order fully integrates the president’s vision – a vigorous defense of international religious freedom rights for all – into key aspects of United States foreign policy,” White House aide Kellyanne Conway said. “Yet again, President Trump is taking a decisive action to keep his promise to people of faith around the world.”

In addition, President Trump – this time accompanied by first lady Melania Trump – visited the National Shrine in Washington, a Roman Catholic house of worship.

Fox News' Morgan Phillips and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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