President Donald Trump speaking at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday - (Associated Press/Photo by Evan Vucci)

President Trump addressed the 68th National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, prompting moments of applause as he affirmed the sanctity of human life and touted the administration’s work in prison reform and international religious freedom.

“All of us here today affirm these timeless truths,” the president said. “Faith keeps us free. Prayer makes us strong, and God alone is the author of life and the giver of grace.”

Echoing some of his themes from Tuesday’s State of the Union address, Trump mentioned the administration’s efforts in upholding innocent human life and religious freedom by noting the re-implementation of the Mexico City Policy, which disallows federal funding of international abortions, and domestic efforts to combat anti-Semitism and discrimination against Christians.

“In everything we do,” Trump said. “we are creating a culture that protects freedom and protects religious freedom.”

Speaking of the passage of the bipartisan prison reform law known as the First Step Act, Trump said the law is “proving more and more that America is a nation that believes in redemption.” Trump credited people of faith for championing the cause “long before it was fashionable. I want to thank you.” He noted that a growing number of employers are helping ex-prisoners find work.

There were several moments of tension as well as levity—not unexpected in a bipartisan gathering on the heels of impeachment proceedings. After Trump was recognized with a customary welcome from organizers and a mostly warm reception from participants, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, seated on the opposite side of the podium from the president, was recognized before she took the podium to offer a prayer for persecuted religious groups.

Moments later as Trump addressed the gathering, he harkened back to the morning’s keynote address by conservative and Harvard professor Arthur Brooks on the challenge of loving one’s enemies.

“I apologize. I am trying to learn,” the president said during a moment of what appeared to be self-effacing humor. “It’s not easy … When they impeach you for nothing, then you’re supposed to like them? It’s not easy, folks. I do my best.”

Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke prior to Trump’s address, said: “At this National Prayer Breakfast, I’d encourage you to, in these divided times, pray for America, for all of the American people.

“For I truly believe that those ancient words that Americans have clung to in much more challenging times than we could ever imagine in our day are still true today, that if His people, who are called by His name will humble themselves and pray, He’ll do like He’s always done through the long and storied history of this nation: He’ll hear from Heaven, and He’ll heal this land, this one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

The National Prayer Breakfast began in 1953 after Billy Graham invited former President Dwight Eisenhower to join lawmakers for a morning meal “in the spirit of Jesus.” Every president since has addressed the event, organized by The Fellowship Foundation, a nonprofit that brings leaders together around faith.

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Franklin Graham also took to Facebook to thank the President and Vice President for being always willing to consistently take strong stands for Religious Freedom:


Thank you to President Donald J. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and all those who were a part of the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast this morning in Washington, D.C. I believe in the power of prayer—prayer is essential for us as individuals and for our future as a nation.

The President was right when he said, “We know that our nation is stronger, our future is brighter, and our joy is greater when we turn to God and ask Him to shed His grace on our lives.” I am so grateful that we have a President and a Vice President who are willing to consistently take such a strong stand for religious freedom.

President Trump also said, “In America, we don’t punish prayer. We don’t tear down crosses. We don’t ban symbols of faith. We don’t muzzle preachers. We don’t muzzle pastors. In America, we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the glory of God.” This is something to be thankful for.


Watch the President’s National Prayer Breakfast Address Below or read the Transcript Here.