Kicking off the Republican National Convention on Monday, Jay Shepard, a Catholic Republican delegate from Vermont, described President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as "gifts" that “God has bestowed upon us” but “not because we deserve them."
Shepard, who describes himself as a “Catholic Donald Trump Republican,” made the statement during an opening prayer for the convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, in which he praised the president as an imperfect believer who is on his way to God while painting Catholics like Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as wayward.
“Thank you, O Lord, for all the gifts you provide us, not because we deserve them, but solely through your grace and mercy, let us acknowledge the many gifts that God has bestowed upon us, starting with a president and vice president that reflect the values of our founding fathers and are willing to fight for those values, starting with life, knowing that all life is precious, from conception to natural death,” Shepard prayed.
“There is no choice but to fight for the unborn. For those of us who are true to our Catholic faith, we pray for an end for the intrinsic evil that is abortion. Give us the strength to fight for our religious freedom as our president does, and instill in us the spirit and commitment to stand with the poor in a continued fight for religious freedom.”
In his prayer, Shepard expressed appreciation for American troops and their families as well as police officers who are “on the frontline of law enforcement every day,” before pointing to the state of the president’s faith.
“We are all sinners and none of us are perfect. We recognize that faith is a journey. It is not where we start that journey, but where we are now and where we strive to be. Help us all to follow President Trump, whose actions show he is on the journey to you, Lord,” Shepard prayed.
He then spoke against "the other party" and those who claim the faith but lead people astray.
“Let us not be deceived by those who were once close to you but have turned away in favor of embracing political ideology yet claiming Catholic beliefs and words while their actions turn them and their followers away from you,” he prayed.
“We pray that you change their hearts and bring them back to you. … Please, Lord, continue to guide our party to the light. And we pray that those from the other party will turn away from the darkness and join us in our march to you, our Lord and Savior. In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Last week, Biden's Catholic faith was featured prominently at the Democratic National Convention.
“For Joe, faith isn’t a prop or a political tool. I’ve known Joe for about 30 years and I’ve seen his faith in action,” Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware said. “Joe knows the power of prayer, and I’ve seen him in moments of joy and triumph, of loss and despair turn to God for strength.”