BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Leaders of multiple Christian denominations based in Baltimore denounced President Donald Trump’s tweets calling the city a “disgusting rat, rodent infested mess” as horrible and demeaning.

The group of religious leaders, representing Catholic, Lutheran and Methodist denominations among others, released a joint statement Monday reading, in part:

Recently, much to our dismay and profound sadness, you publicly slurred our beloved City of Baltimore in a tweet. We will not dignify the slur by repeating it. It was horrible, demeaning and beneath the dignity of a political leader who should be encouraging us all to strive and work for a more civil, just and compassionate society.

It is all too easy to look for scapegoats and fault others for longstanding and systemic problems that beset every community. Cities, which bring together diverse races, languages, cultures, economic and social conditions, are frequent targets for those who cannot – or will not – see their beauty through the eyes of God and in their inhabitants.

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The statement goes on to urge Trump to uplift people in the vein of the prophet Jeremiah rather than demean them.

“In an open society of honest disagreements and political differences, it’s especially imperative that leaders do not insult, demean, dehumanize and divide people and communities,” the statement reads. “Good leaders lift up, call people together, and bring out the best in them. Slamming individuals and whole communities is not leadership; it’s regression – for everybody.”

The president’s comments about Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings have drawn backlash from local celebrities, politicians and residents from both sides of the aisle.

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