Kentucky Gov. at Prayer Breakfast: Be 'Unapologetic' About Faith

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin speaks in Lexington, Kentucky in May 2014. | (Photo: Reuters/John Sommers II)

Nearly 1,000 supporters attended the annual Governor's Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort, Kentucky, this week, with newly-elected Gov. Matt Bevin focusing his invocation on the importance of standing up for one's beliefs.

Bevin spoke at the 50th Governor's Prayer Breakfast at the Franfort Convention Center on Tuesday along with other influential Kentuckians, including University of Kentucky men's basketball coach John Calipari.

The governor focused his prayer on the importance of Christians standing up for their religious freedom rights in the U.S., arguing people should never be "apologetic about their faith."

Conservatives have hailed Bevin, who was elected last November, for championing several causes, including defending Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis and signing pro-life legislation into law.

Bevin said that while some may consider a prayer breakfast to be politically incorrect, he challenges Christians to stay strong in their faith.

"I challenge you. Don't be apologetic for those. Be bold, be bold in what you know, be bold in what drew you here today," he told the audience.

"If in all our ways we acknowledge Him, He will direct our paths," the governor continue. "I want you to know as the Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky that is my prayer for Kentucky."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation had spoken out against Tuesday's prayer breakfast, with FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor saying in a statement that the event "[abrogates Bevin's] duty to remain neutral."

"This event sends a message that the governor of Kentucky prefers and endorses religion over nonreligion and more specifically the Christian faith," Gaylor added.

John Calipari, whose team is the most succesful NCAA Division I basketball program in the nation, focused his speech on the importance of teamwork, saying he was inspired after seeing Pope Francis during his visit to Washington D.C. last fall.

"[The pope] talked about a lot of things, but the two that stood out: treat people how you would want to be treated, the Golden Rule," Calipari said. "What if it were you on drugs? What if it were you who lost your job? How would you want to be treated? With respect and dignity."

Bevin has addressed multiple conservative issues since he took office in 2015, including signing legislation that would make county clerks exempt from putting their signature on marriage licenses.

The legislation was signed after Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for five days for refusing to sign same-sex marriage licenses based on her religious beliefs.

Earlier this month, Bevin signed a law requiring women to receive counseling from a physician 24 hours before they receive an abortion.

After signing the bill, Bevin said he was "grateful for the chance to be able to sign meaningful legislation, and today was a day when a meaningful piece of legislation was put in front of me."

"Many have fought for a long, long time to see meaningful pro-life legislation come out of this legislature and be signed into law. This is the first of any significance in 12 years," Bevin added. "We are going to celebrate and appreciate the importance of human life and the sanctity of every human life."

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