Harold Pease Ph. D
If the President does what he says he will do, as so far Trump has, Christians, and Christian values, can look forward to a new era of respect and value. President Trump gave two powerful, policy changing, addresses Friday, September 13, one to the Values Voters Conference, mostly Christian leaders, and the second refusing to recertify the Iran Nuclear Treaty, basically sending it back to the Senate for much needed improvement. The establishment news media, 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, protected religion by creating the 1st Amendment in the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution requires a moral people to be fully understood. And, as mentioned, the establishment news media won’t cover it because of its long-standing anti-religious bias.
The Founder best articulating 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. “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 made conditional upon states ratifying the Constitution were listed in order of importance in the Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Freedom of religion was listed first.
John Adams best articulated the need for a moral people to fully understand the Constitution when he wrote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Benjamin Franklin expressed a similar view, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom…. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
The following phrases in Trumps 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.” And later, “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.”
“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.” “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.” This policy prohibits federal funding of organizations performing or promoting abortion as a method of family planning. Democratic presidents always reinstate it and Republican Presidents 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. 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.”
“We have also taken action to protect the conscience rights of groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor…. we will not let bureaucrats take away that calling or take away their rights.”
So is Trump just following a script to insure he captures 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 when not running for president, as the sitting president.
The words are perfect and 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.
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 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, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.