Donald Trump gave the first commencement address of his presidency this past weekend at Liberty University, an evangelical Christian university founded by Jerry Falwell. While the President’s speech touched on a number of different themes, it was no surprise, given the venue, that he eventually addressed religious freedom, an issue of great importance to many of his Christian supporters.
In his remarks, Trump referred to his recently signed executive order on religious freedom as “very important,” and promised Liberty’s graduating class that they would be free to practice their faith as long as he is president:
Liberty University is a place where they really have true champions and you have a simple creed that you live by: To be, really, champions for Christ. Whether you’re called to be a missionary overseas, to shepherd a church or to be a leader in your community, you are living witness of the gospel message of faith, hope and love. And I must tell you I am so proud as your president to have helped you along over the past short period of time. I said I was going to do it, and Jerry, I did it. And a lot of people are very happy with what’s taken place, especially last week, we did some very important signings, right James? Very important signings.
America is better when people put their faith into action. As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what’s in your heart.
We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings. …
While President Trump has received some praise for his religious freedom order, a number of prominent conservatives have criticized him for not going far enough to protect Americans’ right to live according to their beliefs.
While those concerned about increasing threats to religious liberty will no doubt be pleased to hear the President promising to protect people of faith, there is still much his administration needs to do in order to make this promise a reality.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore