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Biden facing criticism for highlighting Transgender Day of Visibility on Easter

WASHINGTON (BP) – President Joe Biden is facing backlash from Southern Baptists, other religious conservatives and the Donald Trump campaign for proclaiming March 31 – which coincided with Easter Sunday this year – as “Transgender Day of Visibility.”

Biden issued the proclamation on Good Friday, calling on “all Americans to join us in lifting up the lives and voices of transgender people throughout our Nation and to work toward eliminating violence and discrimination based on gender identity.”

Transgender Day of Visibility has been recognized on March 31 for several years, but this year overlapped with Easter, Christianity’s holiest celebration. Trump’s campaign accused Biden, a Roman Catholic, of being insensitive to religion.

“We call on Joe Biden’s failing campaign and White House to issue an apology to the millions of Catholics and Christians across America who believe tomorrow is for one celebration only – the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” said Karoline Leavitt, the Trump campaign’s press secretary. She assailed what she called the Biden administration’s “years-long assault on the Christian faith.”

Several prominent Southern Baptists reacted publicly to Biden’s declaration.

On his daily podcast “The Briefing,” Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler said Biden’s long proclamation juxtaposed with his very short one about Easter make the White House’s priorities “abundantly clear.”

Mohler went on to say that though the incident was “inexcusably offensive, it also was incredibly revealing. Because what was made visible is the agenda of this administration and, honestly, it’s war on reality.”

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Andrew T. Walker posted on X: “While American Christians celebrate the pinnacle of their faith on Resurrection Sunday on March 31 (the faith that nourished the American experience), the Decency is Back™️ caucus in the Biden administration are celebrating the same day as ‘Transgender Day of Visibility.’ Read the room, you degenerate neo-gnostics. Maybe they’ll muster the courage to say something about Easter, especially from this supposedly ‘Catholic’ President, but we know their true priorities are desecrating the human body, not celebrating its renewal through Jesus’s resurrection.”

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell wrote Biden’s proclamation “is absurd, shameful and seems intentional. Jesus is ALIVE and no man or President can change that.”

Todd Gray, Kentucky Baptist Convention executive director posted: “’Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ Isaiah 5:20.”

Paul Chitwood, International Mission Board wrote: “March 31 is Easter. ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.’ Galatians 6:7.”

“I suspect my outrage is the goal,” posted SBC President Bart Barber. “… that my complaint about the latest scandal is hoped to play a part in rallying a disengaged far left. But it certainly is scandalous. On Easter Sunday, no less.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., said on social media that the “Biden White House has betrayed the central tenet of Easter. Banning sacred truth and tradition – while at the same time proclaiming Easter Sunday as ‘Transgender Day’ – is outrageous and abhorrent. The American people are taking note.”

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said Republicans criticizing Biden “are seeking to divide and weaken our country with cruel, hateful and dishonest rhetoric.”

“As a Christian who celebrates Easter with family, President Biden stands for bringing people together and upholding the dignity and freedoms of every American,” Bates said. “President Biden will never abuse his faith for political purposes or for profit.”

Biden regularly attends Mass and considers his Catholic upbringing to be a core part of his morality and identity.

But Biden’s political stances on gay marriage, abortion and LGBTQ+ rights have put him at odds with many conservative Christians and fellow Catholics.

The White House on Friday also banned religious-themed designs from the White House Easter egg art contest.

The art contest is part of the White House’s Easter traditions, which include the annual Easter Egg Roll. The flyer for the contest states that an Easter egg design submission “must not include any questionable content, religious symbols, overtly religious themes, or partisan political statements.”

The Associated Press and Baptist Press contributed to this report.