Religious figures divided over Trump's photo op in front of church

Polls show that white evangelical Christians strongly back Trump, and his supporters were quick to defend him Tuesday. The Rev. Franklin Graham, an evangelist who is one of Trump’s most vocal religious supporters, defended the president’s visit to St. John’s, saying politicians take photo ops all the time.

“That’s his backyard,” he said of St. John’s, which is within walking distance of the White House. “He has any right to walk there anytime he wants. I was glad to see him stand in front of that church and hold up the word of God.”

Graham said the president should not have had to notify clergy that he was planning to visit the church, but he could call them in to visit with them or go out and pray with them at a later time. He said people are looking for reasons to tear Trump apart when the unrest is the fault of governors and mayors who have lost control of their cities.

Samuel Rodriguez, a nationally known Hispanic evangelical leader who is part of a core dozen evangelical leaders who have been advising the president, said it was good to see the president holding the Bible “like a boss.”

“I see Donald Trump going, ‘You all dare to burn a church behind the White House. How dare you? Let me show you something,’ ” he said.