You may know him from Meghan Markle and Prince Harry's wedding where he preached a powerful sermon about love. Now that the Episcopal reverend is back in the United States, though he's taking his sermon one step further. On Thursday, royal wedding Bishop Michael Curry led a vigil outside the White House, as part of a declaration that both rejects Trump's "America First" policies and brings people of all political backgrounds together.
On Thursday, May 24, Curry headed a march from the National City Church to to the White House for a prayer session he specified was "not a protest, it is a procession," according to The Hill. During the procession, he said:
Love [your] Republican neighbor, love your Democrat neighbor, love your black neighbor, love your white neighbor. We are not a partisan group. We are not a left wing group. We are not a right wing group. We are a Jesus group. We came together liberal, conservative, and whatever is in the middle.
Earlier in the day of the vigil, Curry met with both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in D.C, participating in a morning prayer, that was organized by two Episcopalian members of the House of Representatives.
The vigil was part of a declaration created by progressive Christian leaders, declaring that the church is “part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries.” Part of the "Reclaiming Jesus" declaration elaborates on these ideas, reading, "While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal. We reject domination rather than stewardship of the earth’s resources, toward genuine global development that brings human flourishing for all of God’s children.”
Trump's "America First" policies have drawn criticism from the international community for quite some time. Long before Curry's procession took place, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, the United Nation's human rights chief, condemned many of Trump's actions thus far as president.
“Greater and more consistent leadership is needed to address the recent surge in discrimination, anti-Semitism, and violence against ethnic and religious minorities,” he said in a U.N. human rights council meeting in Geneva. “Vilification of entire groups such as Mexicans and Muslims, and false claims that migrants commit more crimes than U.S. citizens, are harmful and fuel xenophobic abuses.”
Al-Hussein's statements came a few days after Trump's creation of a travel ban, according to The Independent. Under the ban, refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen were not permitted to enter the United States or have an immigrant or non-immigrant visa issued to them.
Although part of the "Reclaiming Jesus" declaration is meant to speak out against such policies, Curry emphasized that the vigil's focus was following the teachings of Jesus Christ, calling it “a Pentecostal moment." Still, Curry has previously branded the president's "America First" policy "a theological heresy for the followers of Christ" according to Daily Express.
And Thursday's vigil wasn't Curry's first foray into activism. In June 2014, according to dionc.org, Curry spoke to a gathering of people advocating for teacher raises, protection for teacher aides and support positions, as well as an end to a voucher system that let parents use public school funds to send their kids to private schools.
And for anyone who watched the royal wedding, it's worth mentioning that the message of the vigil outside the White House similarly echoed that of his sermon in the U.K.
"The late Dr. Martin Luther King once said, and I quote," Curry began, "'We must discover the power of love, the power, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this whole world a new world. But love, love is the only way.'"