While President Donald Trump's licentious past has been the subject of multiple reports lately, Vice President Mike Pence revealed on the National Day of Prayer Thursday that the New York City billionaire is quite principled when it comes to praying for direction about the nation's business.
In an interview with CBN News shortly after Trump held a celebration for the National Day of Prayer in the Rose Garden, Pence said the president has encouraged praying in the White House by personally promoting the practice himself.
"There's prayer going on on a regular basis in this White House. And it's one of the most meaningful things to me, whether it's public meetings or not, I've lost count of the number of times that the president has nudged me, or nudged another member of the Cabinet and said, 'Let's start this meeting with prayer,'" Pence said.
Trump, as part of his celebration of the National Day of Prayer signed an executive order that repeals Obama administration rules that limited the ability of groups getting federal funds to preach to those they serve. The order also reinstituted the White House office on faith issues, calling it the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative — dropping the words "community" and "neighborhood," which President Barack Obama had added. The office was first added under President George W. Bush.
Pence told CBN that the executive order was signed to make sure all levels of the federal government are partnering with faith-based groups on various federal programs.
"This is really about making sure that as we develop policies for the country, that we are always making room for those inalienable rights, the free exercise of religion that Americans cherish," he explained.
In his remarks Thursday, President Trump said: "The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, in our communities, and our great country."
He further noted that: "This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations will have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs. We take this step because we know that in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government. And nothing is more powerful than God."
Critics of the executive order, like the Center for Inquiry, which opposes government partnerships with religious groups, claimed that it includes a stealth feature that would make it much harder for people to obtain federally funded social services from an organization that doesn't have religious ties.
"The Trump administration has once again announced its contempt for the separation of church and state," Nick Little, CFI's vice president and general counsel said in a statement Thursday. "Taxpayer funded social service contracts will go to religious groups – that's not new – but now, someone who would rather not get their substance abuse treatment or poverty assistance services under a cross, a Star of David, or a star and crescent, will have no choice.
"President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have been pushing to let religiously affiliated entities dole out services in accordance with their own restrictive religious dogmas, even when those services are paid for with tax dollars," Little said.
On the same day Pence spoke to CBN about Trump's prayer life, Trump admitted he paid hush money to a porn star, though adding the alleged affair never happened. He had previously claimed to have no knowledge of the payoff.
Friday morning, Trump told reporters "we're not changing any stories" about the porn star payoff. He also criticized reporters for "bringing up that kind of crap."