President Donald Trump delivered a speech focused on both God and the United States at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday — one aimed specifically at those who espouse Christian nationalism, the Washington Post reports.
“America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer,” Trump said.
The National Prayer Breakfast is a nonpartisan event, but most attending the breakfast are political leaders — who, some argue, come for political reasons, not spiritual ones. The annual prayer breakfast was started by Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. Held on the first Thursday in February, this breakfast calls together people of faith to celebrate their love for Jesus and pray for the country.
While avoiding the policy pronouncements that marked last year, Trump at this year’s breakfast spoke of a desire to “worship without fear” — a nod to religious freedom concerns often expressed by evangelical leaders.
According to the Washington Post:
In recent years, many evangelical leaders have shifted away from talk of a coalescing into a “moral majority” or taking back a Christian nation into a resigned acknowledgment of the loss of battles like same-sex marriage, according to Seth Dowland, an associate professor of religion at Pacific Lutheran University. “The battleground has shifted to ‘We have to defend religious freedom,’ which they mean: a particular set of evangelical priorities,” Dowland said. Trump has seized on these concerns when he has advocated for things like a repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
“It ends up looking more like a special pleading for a particular type of Christianity or nationalism,” Dowland said. “You don’t hear the same tones of universal religious freedom from previous presidents.”
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