President Trump Hosts National Day of Prayer: ‘We Condemn All Crimes Against People of Faith’

President Donald Trump speaks during a National Day of Prayer event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Thursday, May 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Washington, DC

President Donald Trump presided over a National Day of Prayer event in the White House Rose Garden for the second year, pledging at the Thursday morning gathering to protect religious liberty all across America.

The Hope Christian Choir opened the event with a Gospel-centered praise song calling for the name of God to be lifted up, lauding the presence and glory of God, and encouraging people to pray for and love one another:

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the crowd with the recitation of Jeremiah 29:11, a verse he has often quoted, as it has long sat above the mantle in his home.

Second lady Karen Pence joined her husband at the event.

Six faith leaders from a variety of backgrounds took to the stage to pray. Each took a turn praying in front of the crowd gathered: Cissie Graham Lynch of Samaritan’s Purse; Rabbi Levi Shemtov of The Rabbinical Council of Greater Washington; Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington; Jean B. Bingham, general president of the Relief Society, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Dawud Abdul-Aziz Agbere, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps; and Narayanachar Digalakote, priest at the Sri Siva Vishnu Temple in Lanham, Maryland.

President Trump then addressed the crowd, which stood up when he did so. Trump recalled addressing the March for Life through a video feed from the White House to the Washington, DC, event.

“As president, I will always protect religious liberty,” said President Trump:

He spoke of religious persecution around the world, “including the persecution of many, many Christians,” stating that “what’s going on is horrible, and we are taking action.”

At the 2017 White House National Day of Prayer event, President Trump signed an executive order protecting religious freedom. He signed another order affecting religious freedom during Thursday’s event, the “establishment of a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.”

“We condemn all crimes against people of faith, and today, we are launching another historic action,” he said as he prepared to sign the new initiative intended to protect people of faith:

“The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country,” said Trump. “This office will also help ensure that faith-based organizations have equal access to government funding and the equal right to exercise their deeply held beliefs.”

“Faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God,” he continued:

Trump then brought up Jon Ponder of Las Vegas, Nevada. The president recounted Ponder’s life, his time in jail for bank robbery, and salvation while behind bars in solitary confinement. Ponder was saved as he heard the words of Rev. Billy Graham on the radio. 

“Prayer changes hearts and transforms lives. It uplifts the soul, inspires action, and unites us all as one nation under God,” said Trump, who said the nation was founded on prayer. “Our nation will be renewed by hard work, a lot of intelligence, and prayer.”

Event attendee and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias spoke with Breitbart News directly after the event, expressing the impact of the music selected by the choir that spoke of needing one another and a goal of learning to be blessed and at peace. He said that at his 72 years of age, he would love to see more unity and love. Zacharias spoke at a National Day of Prayer event during the Bush administration and attended a Presidential Prayer Breakfast event with President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s.

The event hosted around 200 guests from faith-based communities. Also in attendance were Trump administration officials Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, DHS Secretary Alex Azar, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and National Intelligence Director Dan Coats.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana.

.