President Donald Trump signed an executive order on the National Day of Prayer that focuses on protecting religious freedom and giving faith-based groups equal access to federal funding.
The order creates a White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative. Similar to faith-based initiatives created under the previous two administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, the Trump order recognizes the power of faith-based groups to serve families and communities on a broad range of issues.
“The faith initiative will help design new policies that recognize the vital role of faith in our families, our communities and our great country,” the president said during the signing ceremony in the Rose Garden. “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.”
Another responsibility of the office will be to inform the attorney general of any concerns raised by faith-based groups about failures of the executive branch to protect religious liberty.
“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 said.
During the signing ceremony, Vice President Pence spoke about the importance of prayer.
“The Bible tells us to persevere in prayer, that the prayer of the upright pleases Him, and that in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, we’re to present our requests to God. And the American people do this every day.
“The American people believe in prayer. Always have. Prayer is the cord that runs through every era of America’s history,” Pence said.
President Trump shared thoughts about prayer after thanking Cissie Graham Lynch for continuing her grandfather’s legacy as she prayed during the ceremony.
“Today, we remember the words of Reverend Graham, ‘Prayer is the key that opens [to] us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings,’” Trump said. “Reverend Graham’s words remind us that prayer has always been at the center of American life, because America is a nation of believers.
“The prayers of religious believers helped gain our independence, and the prayers of religious leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King—great man—helped win the long struggle for civil rights. Faith has shaped our families, and it’s shaped our communities. It’s inspired our commitment to charity and our defense of liberty. And faith has forged the identity and the destiny of this great nation that we all love.
“We are proud of our religious heritage,” Trump added. “And as president, I will always protect religious liberty.”