DeSantis: 'I don’t know how you could be a leader without having faith in God'

Republican candidate vows to restore 'full religious freedom' in the US if elected president

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Pray Vote Stand Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on September 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C. The summit featured remarks from multiple 2024 Republican Presidential candidates making their case to the conservative audience members. | Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis highlighted the vital role faith in God plays in leadership as he explained how he will advance the cause of religious liberty if he becomes the 47th president of the United States. 

DeSantis, a candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024, addressed the crowd at the Family Research Council’s Pray, Vote, Stand Summit Friday, where he discussed his faith in God and outlined how he would protect religious liberty if elected president. 

“I don’t know how you could be a leader without having faith in God,” he said. “When you stand up for what’s right in this day and age, that is not going to be cost-free. You are going to face blowback, you’re going to face attacks, you’re going to face smears. And it’s the faith in God that gives you the strength to stand firm against the lies, against the deceit, against the opposition.” 

DeSantis credited his faith in God with giving him “the foundation to know that all the insults, all the nonsense they throw at you ultimately doesn’t matter because you are aiming higher.”

After expressing concerns about the current state of affairs in the U.S., DeSantis lamented that “we do have a spiritual decline in this country.” 

The candidate cited the practice of “forcibly closing churches and denying people their right to worship as they see fit” during the coronavirus lockdowns as one example of the spiritual decline engulfing the U.S. “The liquor stores were open, the strip clubs were open, but yet they shut the door on the people of faith,” he recalled. 

“I believe that reviving the spirit of America is essential to helping reverse America’s decline. And this revival is going to begin in our religious institutions, our places of work, each of our households, all the institutions that make up the bedrock of society,” he declared.

DeSantis warned of “threats to religious liberty the likes we have not seen throughout most of American history” and highlighted the need for “people to be able to live their faith in all aspects of their life” as “faith has been treated as secondary to secular concerns in culture.” 

“Attempts have been made to wipe our Judeo-Christian religious symbols from our national heritage and national culture. The Left, you know, they talk about saying you can’t be involved in religious practice if you’re in government because it would represent [an] establishment of religion,’” he added. 

The presidential candidate refuted this argument, saying, “First of all, that’s not true. But second of all, they’re the ones that want to establish a religion. They just don’t want to establish traditional religions. They want political leftism to be the established religion of this country.”

DeSantis insisted that the effort to establish political leftism as the established religion of the country has led those who want to practice their faith in public to find themselves “only being able to do that up until the point it conflicts with [the leftist] agenda.” He pointed to the treatment of coach Joe Kennedy, a Washington state high school football coach who lost his job because of opposition to his effort to pray on the field after the game, as an example of how violations of religious liberty have become commonplace.

The governor noted that Kennedy’s victory at the U.S. Supreme Court was “hailed as a victory for religious liberty” while suggesting that “the fact that it even had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court shows us that religious liberty is not flourishing the way it should in our country.”

He then outlined how he would work to advance the cause of religious liberty if elected president.

“As your president, I’m going to get to work on restoring full religious freedom in this country,” he vowed. He pointed to nominating and placing “constitutionalist judges on the courts of appeal and on the U.S. Supreme Court” as an important step in achieving that goal, assuring the audience that “my nominees will reflect the jurisprudence of justices like Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito Jr.,” whom he referred to as “the two greatest justices on the court.” 

DeSantis also announced his intention to “end once and for all religious discrimination” by abolishing “all government regulations that force groups to choose between government funding and their faith.” He maintained that “instead, we’re going to actively incorporate the faith community in our administration.” 

“We will make sure that the faith community has a seat at the table as we work to do the business of the country,” he added. “We will also do what we’ve done in Florida. We have universal school choice in the state of Florida, and we need it nationwide. On day one, we’ll issue an executive order that ensures funding available to private non-religious schools must also be available to private, faith-based schools.” 

He continued: “We will stop the federal government from targeting men and women on the basis of their faith. Religious schools should not be pressured to violate the tenets of their faith. There will never be a question about whether a faith-based charity that serves the poor deserves First Amendment protections. We will seek the repeal of the Johnson Amendment, which suppresses the speech of our religious leaders.” 

DeSantis detailed how his administration would “ensure that the Judeo-Christian tradition and values that our nation was founded on are respected and are preserved.” Specifically, he expressed a desire to “create divisions of conscience and religious freedom in the Departments of Education, Labor, and [Health and Human Services] to protect religious liberty against all agencies of government.” 

“Even when God-fearing citizens have won in court, they have been forced to go through the time-consuming and invasive processes,” he lamented. “My Department of Justice will investigate and prosecute attacks on faith-based [crisis pregnancy] centers and pro-life activists, which the Biden administration is ignoring and they’re letting this go on.” 

DeSantis repeatedly discussed his record as Florida governor in his remarks and concluded his speech by describing his state as “the place where woke goes to die.” He told the audience, “As president, we are going to leave the woke mind virus in the dustbin of history, where it belongs, once and for all.” 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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