If a picture paints a thousand words, then the White House’s choice of image for its homepage—featuring President and Mrs. Trump in the Vatican Sistine Chapel—tells an entire story of the President’s commitment to religious liberty.
The photograph, taken during the first couple’s visit to the Vatican last May, bears the caption: “No American Should Have to Choose Between Faith and the Law.” The backdrop for the image is Michelangelo’s massive fresco painting of the Last Judgment.
On Tuesday, President Trump declared January 16, 2018, as “Religious Freedom Day,” while specifically referencing notable examples of violations of this fundamental freedom even on American soil.
“Unfortunately, not all have recognized the importance of religious freedom, whether by threatening tax consequences for particular forms of religious speech, or forcing people to comply with laws that violate their core religious beliefs without sufficient justification,” he noted in a thinly veiled reference to Obamacare and the HHS Mandate.
“These incursions, little by little, can destroy the fundamental freedom underlying our democracy,” he said.
“No American — whether a nun, nurse, baker, or business owner — should be forced to choose between the tenets of faith or adherence to the law,” Mr. Trump said.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump promised to defend the religious freedom of Americans, while criticizing Hillary Clinton’s wish to follow President Obama’s lead in forcing the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for contraceptives in their health care plan “and having the government fine them heavily if they continue to refuse to abide by this onerous mandate.”
“That is a hostility to religious liberty you will never see in a Trump Administration,” he said in a letter dated Oct. 5, 2016.
The prominent evangelical pastor Franklin Graham has called President Donald Trump the most vocal defender of the Christian faith of any president in recent history.
“Never in my lifetime have we had [a president] willing to take such a strong outspoken stand for the Christian faith” like [Donald Trump],” Graham tweeted last month. “We need to get behind him with our prayers.”
In his proclamation Tuesday, the President promised to be a defender of religious freedom beyond America’s borders, where religious persecution is often violated.
“The United States is also the paramount champion for religious freedom around the world, because we do not believe that conscience rights are only for Americans,” he said. “We will continue to condemn and combat extremism, terrorism, and violence against people of faith, including genocide waged by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria against Yezidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims.”
“Faith breathes life and hope into our world. We must diligently guard, preserve, and cherish this unalienable right,” he said.
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