US President Donald Trump © Susan Walsh
A group of women religious is on a bus headed to Donald Trump's luxury Florida estate to denounce Republican tax reform with an unusual protest action. In total they want to cross 21 US states.
They're on the road again: ten Catholic women religious hit the road in early October, crisscrossing the United States under the motto "Nuns on the Bus". The destination of the trip, organized by sister, lawyer and social activist Simone Campbell, 73, is this Friday (2. November) Mar-a-Lago – President Donald Trump's ostentatious luxury Florida estate. The women want to protest with their media-effective tour against what they see as the government's unjust tax policy.
At a total of 54 events, she met believers, activists and interested parties from different political camps. Meetings are held in community facilities, union halls or outdoors.
Sister Simone is known throughout the country for her efforts. The lobbyist has been executive director of the Catholic organization Network, which campaigns for social justice, since 2004. But it does not only meet with approval. The Vatican has also criticized the organization in the past.
Vatican seeks cooperation with "nuns on the bus" in the meantime
Campbell explains, Pope Benedict XVI. (2005-2013) had complained in 2012 that she and her fellow activists focused too much on social justice and paid too little attention to other important conflict ies, such as abortion or same-sex marriage. In addition, he accused them of "radical feminism" that is incompatible with the Catholic faith.
But the group continued its commitment unabated and in 2012 launched the "Nuns on the Bus" campaign for the first time. On this particular mission, they wanted to go to Washington to protest Republican politician Paul Ryan's budget plans at the time. Ryan was responsible for cuts to social spending at the time. The tour of the order women became a large medium success.
Father Bruntrup to "Nuns on the bus"
Relations with the Vatican eased in 2015. A multi-year investigation into the activities of U.S. religious has been shut down by Pope Francis. Since then, cooperation rather than confrontation has been sought.
Trump's golf resort a "symbol of tax injustice"
The Network bus last hit the road two years ago to protest social inequality. Now the activists are again on the street. Sister Simone draws her inspiration from the Holy Scriptures: "Our sisters pray daily and always find inspiration in the Bible."
Campbell has big plans for this year's tour showdown at Mar-a-Lago. For them, Trump's golf resort is a "symbol of tax injustice". As a contrast to Mar-a-Lago, the nuns are planning a fiesta with music and fun in front of the exclusive estate, to which – unlike in the resort – everyone is welcome.
Nuns want Trump to invite them to golf
What Trump thinks of the action is not known. But as their bus approaches Mar-a-Lago, the sisters plan to tweet to the president to invite them to play a round of golf. "Several of us like to play golf; and this would be an opportunity to discuss things quietly," Sister Simone says with a mischievous grin.
How many more times the bus will tour is an open question. Campbell says she really only wanted to compete once in 2012. Now she and her comrades are on the road for the sixth time.
Meanwhile, Campbell has also published her memoir. The book, "A Nun on the Bus: How We Can All Foster Hope, Change and Community," was published in 2014.