President Donald Trump addressed the 66th National Prayer Breakfast this morning, linking American greatness with national adherence to Christian values. Over 3,500 guests were in attendance for the speech, including Mark Burnett, Roma Downey and Rep. Steve Scalise.
Trump eschewed his typical conversational tone for a loftier speech in which he extolled the values of Christianity, praised average Americans and even cited Scripture.
"Our rights are not given to us by man," Trump said. "Our rights come to us from our Creator. No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away. That is why the words 'praise be to God' are etched atop the Washington Monument, and those same words are etched into the hearts of our people. So today, we praise God for how truly blessed we are to be American. Across our land, we see the splendor of God's creation. Throughout our history, we see the story of God's providence. In every city and town, we see the Lord's grace all around us through a million acts of kindness, courage and generosity. We love God."
He entreated his audience to see God in everyday miracles and recognize the beauty of religious freedom.
"All we have to do is open our eyes and look around us, and we can see God's hand in the courage of our fellow citizens," Trump said. "We see the power of God's love at work in our souls, and the power of God's will to answer all of our prayers. When Americans are able to live by their convictions, to speak openly of their faith and to teach their children what is right, our families thrive, our communities flourish and our nation can achieve anything at all."
Finally, he exhorted Americans with hope for the future.
"Today, inspired by our fellow citizens, let us resolve to find the best within ourselves," Trump said. "Let us pray for that extra measure of strength and that extra measure of devotion. Let us seek to build a more just and peaceful world where every child can grow up without violence, worship without fear and reach their God-given potential. As long as we are true to America's founding and the example that all of us these great founders have set, we can all be heroes to everybody, and they can be heroes to us. As long as we open our eyes to God's grace and our hearts to God's love, then America will forever be the land of the free, the home of the brave and the light unto all nations."
The event also featured a tribute to Rep. Steve Scalise, who was shot by a gunman during a congressional baseball practice last year.
"To my friend and everybody's friend, Steve Scalise, we are so glad to have you with us today," Trump said. "Your presence reminds us of Jesus' words in the Book of Matthew: 'With God, all things are possible.'"
Scalise said he teared up watching the video tribute. He recalled his memory of that day—specifically, that when he was shot and immobilized on the ground, hearing the gunfire, he turned to God in prayer.
"I knew that my Capitol police detail that were there were engaging with the shooter, but I couldn't see anything," Scalise said. "So the first thing I thought of was to pray. I just started praying. I said, 'I'm going to put this in God's hands.' I've always been a man of faith. I don't go around talking about it a lot, but I have a conversation with God. Every night I talk to God."
During his remarks, Trump honored the memory of National Prayer Breakfast co-founder Doug Coe, who died in 2017. He also called attention to the plight of persecuted religious minorities around the world. His full speech is linked in the video.
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