US President Trump bows his head during a prayer led by faith leaders and evangelical ministers after signing a proclamation declaring a day of prayer for victims of Hurricane Harvey in September.
(CNN)A bishop in the Church of England has chastised some American religious leaders for their unwavering support of US President Donald Trump.
In an interview with the Guardian, Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes accused “self-styled” evangelists of “colluding” with an administration in the White House that, he claimed, fomented division and intolerance.
“Some of the things that have been said by religious leaders seem to collude with a system that marginalizes the poor, a system which builds walls instead of bridges, a system which says people on the margins of society should be excluded, a system which says we’re not welcoming people any more into our country,” he said.
Bishop Bayes encouraged those leaders to reflect on their faith, adding that the acceptance and endorsement of right-wing populism was irreconcilable with Christian values.
“Whenever people say those kinds of things, they need to be able to justify that they’re saying those things as Christians, and I do not believe it’s justifiable,” he said.
Bayes noted that not all evangelical Christians were Trump supporters, saying that there were “many, many Christians who are trying to proclaim the gospel as we’ve received it, even if that means political leaders have to be challenged,” he said.
The bishop’s comments coincide with the launch of the Ozanne Foundation, a UK charity he supports that focuses its work “to eliminate discrimination based on sexuality or gender, in order to embrace and celebrate the equality and diversity of all,” according to director Jayne Ozanne, a gay Christian evangelical leader and LGBTI activist.
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It’s not the first time senior leaders of the Church of England have been critical of the US president and his allies.
During his Christmas sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby criticized “populist leaders,” although he did not name Trump specifically.
In November, the Archbishop said it was “deeply disturbing that the President of the United States has chosen to amplify the voice of far-right extremists” and called on him to “make clear his opposition to racism and hatred in all forms” after Trump retweeted three non-verified anti-Muslim propaganda videos from the British far-right group Britain First.
A spokesman for Bishop Bayes said he would not give any further comments beyond his Guardian interview.