President Donald Trump started off his speech at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast assuring faith leaders, “I will never let you down … Never.”
Among his list of actions and vows to the faith community, the one that received the most enthusiastic applause was his commitment to protect the unborn.
“All children, born and unborn, are made in the holy image of God,” Trump said to a standing ovation as he vowed to “build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life.”
“Every life is sacred and every soul is a precious gift from Heaven. As the Lord says in Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.’”
His words come as more states are introducing bills that would allow abortion up to birth. New York passed such a law last month to the horror of pro-lifers and the faith community. While similar legislation was voted down in Virginia, Rhode Island and Vermont are now considering bills to remove restrictions on abortion until the moment of birth.
Trump highlighted the miracle of a premature baby, Grayson Watkinson, who was born during a snowstorm in Virginia at 24 weeks, weighing just 1 pound, 11 ounces. To the surprise of doctors, he not only survived but improved over the next few months.
Grayson just celebrated his first birthday and is a healthy boy today.
“As his mom Nikki has said, he was put on this earth to do big things. He may be here someday,” Trump said, pointing at his position at the podium. “Nikki, he already has and he will do more and more as he grows older.”
During his 20-minute speech, Trump also vowed to protect religious liberty, including that of faith-based adoption agencies which have been challenged in various states to either allow children to be placed with same-sex couples or shut down.
St. Vincent Catholic Charities is currently in the midst of a court battle after the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state of Michigan on behalf of two lesbian couples. The lawsuit seeks to end funding to faith-based agencies that do not place children with same-sex couples.
Becket, which is representing St. Vincent, argued, “ACLU’s lawsuit is not about helping kids. It’s about scoring cheap political points at the expense of kids. The only thing that the ACLU’s lawsuit would accomplish is fewer homes for children, especially minority children and those with special needs.”
Citing St. Vincent’s case, Trump stated Thursday, “We will always protect our country’s long and proud tradition of faith-based adoption. My administration is working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply-held beliefs.”
Trump lauded charities and faith-based groups for their works in aiding people in need.
“Every day, the people in this room demonstrate the power of faith to transform lives, heal communities and lift up the forgotten,” he told those at the prayer breakfast, including Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.
“As president, I will always cherish, honor and protect the believers who uplift our communities and sustain our nation to ensure that people of faith can always contribute to our society.”
Praising the work of International Justice Mission, whose president, Gary Haugen, gave the keynote address, Trump also noted his administration’s efforts to end human trafficking.
Last year, Trump directed the State Department to cut off aid to countries that do not commit to combating human trafficking. He also signed bills that would bring human traffickers to justice and support survivors of modern slavery.
“Together, we will end the scourge of modern-day slavery that, because of the internet, is at levels that nobody can believe,” he stated.
Other notable statements from Trump's speech included the acknowledgment of second lady Karen Pence, who was the target of the media recently over her decision to work as an art teacher at a Christian school.
"She is a Marine Corps mom, a tremendous woman, a proud supporter of military families and she just recently went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school. Thank you, Karen. Terrific woman."
He also quoted John 16:24, saying, "As Jesus promises in the Bible, ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete."
At the end of his speech, Sens. James Lankford, R-Okla., and Chris Coons, D-Del., prayed for the president.