President Donald Trump lauded the importance of faith in American life as a foundation for freedom in his speech at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast this morning.
“Faith is central to American life and to liberty,” Trump began, “Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence. Our currency declares, ‘In God We Trust.’ And we place our hands on our hearts as we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and proclaim we are ‘One Nation Under God.’”
During his remarks, the president emphasized the interconnection between freedom of religion and a flourishing society.
“When Americans are able to live by their convictions, to speak openly of their faith, and to teach their children what is right, our families thrive, our communities flourish, and our nation can achieve anything at all.”
Trump also committed America to the defense of religious freedom worldwide saying “We know that millions of people in Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea, and other countries suffer under repressive and brutal regimes. America stands with all people suffering oppression and religious persecution.”
“Our rights are not given to us by man, our rights come from our creator,” Trump said to the estimated 3,000 attendees at this year’s prayer breakfast.
The president said that he has seen God’s grace in the good works of American citizens who serve their communities, such as teachers, police officers, services members, and parents.
He also commended those Americans who responded to the tragedies that befell our country in the past year, particularly those who served others suffering amid hurricanes, forest fires, the Las Vegas shooting, and the opioid epidemic.
Following President Trump’s speech, U.S. Representative Steve Scalise, who was shot during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game last June, spoke about the role of his Catholic faith in his work in politics, his prayer life, and the power of prayer in his recovery.
“When you pray for somebody that you don’t know, they feel it. I felt that prayer, the prayers of so many people that I had never met before,” said Scalise.
Scalise reiterated the president’s comments on the integral relationship between faith and liberty. “If you go to the Jefferson Memorial right now, go read this inscription from Thomas Jefferson, ‘God, who gave us life, gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?’”
Another prayer offered at this morning’s gathering came from Democratic Senator Chris Coons who prayed, "Bless the world with better leaders," he said, "Who seek your wisdom.”
The U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director, David Beasley, who prayed for sustainable policies to address world hunger, read a passage from Matthew 25, and emphasized that "every human on the face of the earth was made in [God's] image."
Republican Senator James Lankford prayed, "We don't know everything, but we're so grateful to know the One who does.”
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