Delivering the commencement address at Liberty University Saturday, President Donald Trump told the graduating class that "in America, we don't worship government, we worship God," and promised to protect their religious freedom. He also encouraged them to never give up, but to embrace being an outsider to change the world.
"As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith," Trump said at the evangelical Christian school in Lynchburg, Virginia, before a crowd of about 50,000 people.
"America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers," the president continued. "When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they prayed. When the founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our Creator four times. Because in America, we don't worship government, we worship God."
Trump added that for the same reason elected officials in the U.S. put their hands on the Bible and say, "So help me God," while taking the oath of office. "It is why our currency proudly declares, 'In God we trust,' and it's why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation under God every time we say the pledge of allegiance."
The story of America, he continued, is the "story of an adventure that began with deep faith, big dreams and humble beginnings."
Trump also spoke about Liberty's founder, the Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. "In this beautiful campus and in your smiling faces, but it all began with a vision. That vision was of a world class university for evangelical Christians. … No doubt many people told him his vision was impossible, and I am sure they continued to say that so long after he started, at the beginning with just 154 students, but the fact is no one has ever achieved anything significant without a chorus of critics standing on the sidelines explaining why it can't be done."
He continued, "Nothing is easier or more pathetic than being a critic. ... The future belongs to the people who follow their heart no matter what the critics say because they truly believe in their vision. … A small group of failed voices who think they know everything and understand everyone want to tell everybody else how to live and what to do and how to think, but you aren't going to let other people tell you what you believe, especially when you know that you're right."
The president also encouraged the graduates to "treat the word 'impossible' as nothing more than motivation."
"Relish the opportunity to be an outsider. Embrace that label — being an outsider is fine, embrace the label — because it's the outsiders who change the world and who make a real and lasting difference. The more that a broken system tells you that you're wrong, the more certain you should be that you must keep pushing ahead, you must keep pushing forward," he said.