President Donald Trump pledged to protect religious liberty and freedom of faith during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington as he defended for the second time this week the sanctity of all human life—including the unborn.
Speaking to religious leaders at the 67th annual National Prayer Breakfast on Feb. 7, Trump told the audience that he will safeguard faith-based adoption centers and reiterated his pro-life stance.
“As part of our commitment to building a just and loving society, we must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life,” he said.
“All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.
“Every life is sacred, and every soul is a precious gift from Heaven.”
Trump said at the event, held at the Washington Hilton hotel, that he would always cherish believers who uplift and sustain the nation, and not only in the United States. He said his administration is also speaking out against “religious persecution around the world, including against religious minorities, Christians, and the Jewish community.”
Elon Carr, a new special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, was appointed this week by Trump. Carr left on Feb. 5 to attend two conferences on anti-Semitism in for Belgium and Slovakia.
Trump, building on comments made during his State of the Union speech days ago, promised to support anti-abortion policies amid a renewed push from Democrats seeking to pass or propose measures to expand abortion. His remarks at the high-profile religious gathering echoed what he said at the Capitol, where he denounced multiple late-term-abortion bills that have passed in a number of states, including New York.
Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, New Mexico, and Maryland all have pro-abortion proposals on the table. Such a proposal in Virginia was recently defeated in the Republican-controlled legislature.
Trump, in his State of the Union address, told Congress “to pass legislation to prohibit the late-term abortion of children who can feel pain in the mother’s womb.”
In his prayer breakfast speech, Trump stopped short of calling for a ban of late-term abortions like he did earlier in the week, but said he stood behind those who champion the values of faith.
“I will never let you down,” he said. “As president, I will always cherish, honor and protect the believers who uplift our communities and sustain our nation. To ensure that people of faith can always contribute to our society, my administration has taken historic action to protect religious liberty.”
In his speech at last year’s event, Trump promised to cut the Johnson Amendment, which states that nonprofit organizations (including churches) would lose their tax-exempt status if they engaged in political speech and activity. Republicans introduced a bill to do so shortly after that speech. In May that year, Trump issued an executive order instructing the federal government not to enforce the amendment, although it did not amount to a repeal.
Republicans tried to include a repeal of the amendment in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, but it was removed due to a Senate rule. Critics of the repeal say it “would have the potential of creating a mechanism where political contributions could be made without regard to other campaign financing laws.”
Other notable speakers at this year’s prayer breakfast included Dr. Lance Plyler of the Samaritan’s Purse evangelical Christian organization, who stressed that regardless of skin color, language, religion, or country of residence, “we are all equal in the eyes of God” and “all neighbors.”
The fight against human trafficking was also highlighted by keynote speaker Gary Haugen, CEO of International Justice Mission.
“With proper funding each year, we could see this ancient sin end for good,” he said. “If we all do our part, all of us, to raise our voices and to raise the resources, millions of God’s children can note the freedom for which they are made.”
Trump is the 12th president to speak at the annual breakfast. Every president, from both parties, since Dwight D. Eisenhower has attended the event.