Trump Stands Up for Religious Freedom on the National Day of Prayer

President took 'another historic action' by creating faith initiative by executive order to help protect first freedom in the Bill of Rights

President Donald Trump launched what he described as “another historic action to promote religious freedom” by signing an executive order Thursday to create a faith initiative that will “protect religious liberty,” he said during a ceremony at the White House.

While proclaiming Thursday as the National Day of Prayer, Trump announced he will create the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative within the executive office of the president by signing the order.

Trump told those gathered in the Rose Garden during the commemoration ceremony that the new initiative “will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities, and our great country.

“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. We take this step because we know that in solving the many, many problems and our great challenges, faith is more powerful than government, and nothing is more powerful than God.”

Trump emphasized that the U.S. is “proud of our religious heritage” and promised that he “will always protect religious liberty” as president.

“We’ve been doing it,” Trump said. “We condemn all crimes against people of faith, and today we are launching another historic action to promote religious freedom. I will soon be signing an executive order to create a faith initiative at the White House.”

Noting that his administration “has spoken out against religious persecution around the world,” Trump said, “What’s going on is horrible, and we’re taking action.”

Trump took Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to task Monday during a meeting at the White House for failing to prevent the persecution of Christians at the hands of the Fulani people, a militant tribe of herdsmen in the country, and also Boko Haram, a radical Islamic terrorist group.

“We’ve had very serious problems with Christians who have been murdered, killed in Nigeria,” Trump told reporters inside the White House while sitting next to Buhari. “We’re going to be working on that problem and working on that problem very, very hard, because we can’t allow that to happen.”

Trump added that “we encourage Nigeria and the federal state and local leaders to do everything in their power to immediately secure the affected communities and to protect innocent civilians of all faiths, including Muslims and Christians.”

Related: Attacks on Nigerian Christians Must Stop, Trump Warns

Trump, while speaking Thursday, also championed the “big difference” between his administration and former President Barack Obama’s administration when it came to saying “Merry Christmas” and proudly referring to the U.S. as “one nation under God.”

“One nation under God. So important. And we say it. A lot of people, you know, they don’t say it. But you know what? They’re starting to say it more, just like we’re starting to say ‘Merry Christmas’ when that day comes around,” Trump said. “You notice a big difference between now and two or three years ago?”

“It was going in the other direction rapidly. Now it’s straight up,” Trump continued.

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].