President Donald Trump made his third appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. He was greeted by a largely friendly, conservative crowd and he spoke on themes that provided manna for those in attendance.
The president spoke on subjects tailor-made for the audience. Among his subjects were religious liberty, his opposition to abortion, and the inherent goodness of America. His remark on abortion, which has been in the news lately due to recent extremist abortion laws in New York and Virginia, received the largest applause.
“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 declared. “All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God.”
The president also praised Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen, who has taken media heat recently for teaching at a Christian school that dares to claim that marriage is between one man and one woman.
“Our incredible second lady Karen Pence and by the way, by the way, I’ve gotten to know Karen so well. She is a Marine Corps mom, a tremendous woman, a proud supporter of military families and she just recently went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school. Thank you, thank you, Karen.”
President Trump also acknowledged the presence of Pastor Andrew Brunson, whom the administration helped get released from a Turkish prison in October of last year. Brunson, a Christian missionary, had served two years in a Turkish prison for allegedly plotting the overthrow of the Turkish government.
“He [Brunson] was there for a long time before I got there,” the president said. “I said, ‘you gotta let him out.’ And they let you out.”
Trump also stood up for a Catholic adoption agency in Michigan, which is now fighting a lawsuit because of its unwillingness to place children with same-sex couples for reasons of faith. While acknowledging the Chad and Melissa Buck family, who decided to adopt three siblings from an abusive home, Trump said, “Unfortunately, the Michigan adoption charity that brought the Buck family together is now defending itself in court for living by the values of its Catholic faith. We will always protect our country’s long and proud tradition of faith-based adoption.”
The president made one rather obvious gaffe during his remarks while saying that people of faith were behind many of the nation’s greatest accomplishments. Among those accomplishments, Trump included the “abolition of civil rights.” The president did not correct himself. He appeared to be reading from a teleprompter at that point in his speech.
“I will never let you down,” Trump told the crowd. “I can say that. Never.”
But never is a long time. At last year’s breakfast, the president vowed to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, named for former President Lyndon Johnson. As a senator in 1954, Johnson introduced the amendment to the tax code, which prohibits non-profit organizations from either endorsing or opposing political candidates. Many in the faith community believe that the amendment infringes on the free-speech rights of churches and other religious groups. As of now, the law remains on the books. Trump did not mention the Johnson Amendment in this year’s remarks.
The president shied away from partisan attacks, perhaps in deference to the theme of unity that the event hopes to portray. A particularly poignant moment was when the two co-chairs of the event, James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Coons (D-Dela.) surrounded the president at the podium and prayed for him (shown).
“Father, thank you for the way that you do provide for us. We pray that you would pour your overwhelming blessing on the president, the vice-president, on his cabinet, and his team,” prayed Lankford. “We pray that you would energize him, that you would give him wise counsel, and in quiet moments as he has a gap to be able to think, we pray that you would guide him in the way to go as he leads our nation.”
Senator Coons prayed, “This morning we especially pray for President Trump, and we ask that your wisdom, blessing and peace would be on his family as they serve us, and that today you would touch his heart.”
Amen to that.
Photo: AP Images