Washington National Cathedral leaders are responding to President Donald Trump's repeated attacks on representatives of color, asking if Americans have had enough of "violent dehumanizing words" from the White House.
"Make no mistake about it, words matter. And, Mr. Trump’s words are dangerous," Cathedral leaders said in a statement released Tuesday. The letter was attributed to Revs. Mariann Edgar Budde, Randolph Marshall Hollerith and Kelly Brown Douglas.
Trump faced backlash over the weekend after deriding Rep. Elijah Cummings' majority-black congressional district, which includes part of Baltimore, as "disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess" where "no human being would want to live."
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The National Cathedral said that comments like that, and Trump's earlier tweets saying four congresswomen of color should return to "broken and crime-infested" countries, "call to mind a dark period in our history" and "give cover" to white supremacists.
Such words "serve as a call to action from those people to keep America great by ridding it of such infestation," the letter said. "Violent words lead to violent actions."
Trump has repeatedly said his statements are not racist.
The authors of the letter from the Cathedral reference a moment in 1954 when a U.S. army attorney lambasted then-Sen. Joseph McCarthy over his relentless hunt for supposed communists in America. Joseph Welch asked McCarthy, "You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir?"
The authors did not call for Trump to resign or face impeachment, but they did suggest that Americans "take every opportunity to oppose the indecency and dehumanization that is racism."
"When does silence become complicity? What will it take for us all to say, with one voice, that we have had enough? The question is less about the president’s sense of decency, but of ours," the letter says.
The National Cathedral hasn't shied away from taking a corrective tone with President Trump in the past, even pointing out in March that no presidential permission was needed for Sen. John McCain's funeral. Trump falsely said at the time he "had to approve" the funeral.
The National Cathedral is associated with the Episcopal Church but says it welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds. It does not receive funding from the federal government, but regularly hosts funerals for high-ranking lawmakers, including former President George H.W. Bush and Sen. John McCain.