The US President visited storm-ravaged communities in to the east of the state which was devastated by tornadoes that tore through homes and businesses and left 23 people dead. Mr Trump and his wife Melania took a helicopter tour of the area before going to the homes of some victims in the tiny and especially hard-hit community of Beauregard, near the border with Georgia.
It was during the visit to Beauregard that he signed Bibles, an act later described by respected Southern historian Wayne Flynt as “right next to sacrilege.”
Professor Flynt of Auburn University said: “I’d never sign someone else’s Bible. That’s right next to sacrilege. That’s a holy book.”
Joe Biden’s former chief of staff, Ron Klain, also criticised the President.
He said: “He signed Bibles with the same hand he used – as President – to sign hush money checks to an adult filmstar” – the latter allegation regarding the payments Mr Trump has repeatedly denied.
Peter Daou, a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, tweeted: “Donald J Trump is signing Bibles.
“The man whose vicious and inhumane border policy violates the fundamental teachings of Jesus is signing Bibles.”
But it has been pointed out that presidents have a long history of signing Bibles with Barack Obama, George W Bush and Ronald Reagan all having done so.
President Franklin D Roosevelt signed a Bible in 1933 that he used for his first inauguration. In 1986, President Reagan signed a Bible he sent secretly to Iranian officials.
Peter Manseau, the Smithsonian Institute’s curator of religion, told the Washington Post: “Presidents seem to sign a lot of random things put in front of them.”
Bill Leonard, the founding dean and professor of divinity emeritus at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, insists it was important to remember that signing Bibles is an old tradition, particularly in southern churches.
He said: “It would’ve been worse if he had said no because it would’ve seemed unkind, and this was at least one way he could show his concern along with his visit.
“In this setting, where tragedy has occurred and where he comes for this brief visit, we need to have some grace about that for these folks.”