If the president does what he said he will do, as so far Trump has, Christians and Christian values can look forward to a new era of respect and value. President Donald Trump gave two powerful, policy-changing addresses Friday, Sept. 13, one to the Values Voters Conference which is filled with mostly Christian leaders and the second refusing to recertify the Iran Nuclear Treaty, which basically sends it back to the Senate for much needed improvement. The establishment news media, who are notably hostile in their coverage of Christian values, have essentially buried the first address by extensive coverage of the second.
Liberty Under Fire treats this topic as a constitutional issue because the Founding Fathers valued religion in government and protected religion by creating the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights and because the Constitution requires a moral people in order to be fully understood. And, as mentioned, the establishment news media won’t cover it because of its long-standing, anti-religious bias.
The Founding Father who best articulated the value of religion in government was President George Washington. In his farewell address, as he left office after refusing a third term he advised, he said, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? … Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
The list of demanded freedoms which were conditional upon the states ratifying the Constitution was written in order of importance in the Bill of Rights.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” according to the First Amendment. Freedom of religion was listed first.
President John Adams best articulated the need for a moral people in order to fully understand the Constitution.
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” he said. “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Benjamin Franklin expressed a similar view.
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom,” he said. “As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
The following phrases in Trump’s address to the Values Voters Conference are some of the most powerful to come from the lips of a president in our history and are in harmony with the Founding Fathers.
“America is a nation of believers, and together, we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer,” Trump said. “We know that the American family is the true bedrock of American life.
“I pledged that, in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like you have never seen before,” Trump said. “Bureaucrats think they can run your lives, overrule your values, meddle in your faith and tell you how to live, what to say and how to pray. But we know that parents, not bureaucrats, know best how to raise their children and create a thriving society. We know that it’s the family and the church, not government officials that know best how to create strong and loving communities… In America, we don’t worship government – We worship God.
“We see it in the church communities that come together to care for one another, to pray for each other and to stand strong with each other in times of need,” he said. “We will pass on the blessings of liberty and the glories of God to our children.”
So what campaign promises on freedom of religion has he kept?
“To protect the unborn, I have reinstated a policy first put in place by President Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy,” Trump said. This policy prohibits the federal funding of organizations performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning. Democratic presidents always reinstate it, and Republican presidents always rescind it.
He issued an executive order “to prevent the horrendous Johnson amendment from interfering with your First Amendment rights.” This amendment prohibited tax-exempt organizations, churches and ministers included, from having a political voice in society.
“We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors or our ministers or rabbis,” Trump said. “These are the people we want to hear from, and they’re not going to be silenced any longer.” The order resulted in the Department of Justice issuing “new guidance to all federal agencies to ensure that no religious group is ever targeted under my administration,” he said.
“We have also taken action to protect the conscience rights of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor,” Trump said. “We will not let bureaucrats take away that calling or take away their rights.”
So is Trump just following a script to insure that he captures the votes of the religious community in 2020?
He already has them, because he has done more for this community than any president in distant memory. Moreover, as he pointed out in his address, he is “the first sitting president to address” the Values Voter Summit and not while not running for re-election.
The words are perfect, and they should inspire confidence that in the difficult decisions that he may make, he will go first to his knees and be led by God. But will he? I would feel more comfortable if we saw him attend a church occasionally. Still, it is refreshing to have someone defend the religious community as too few before him have. In America, “We don’t worship government – We worship God.”
Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and to applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. Newspapers have permission to publish this column. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.