WASHINGTON (BP)– President Trump reaffirmed the sanctity of every human life and encouraged Americans to pray for the pursuit of justice during the National Prayer Breakfast Thursday (Feb. 7).
The president also defended religious liberty and the work of faith-based adoption agencies in a 20-minute address at the annual event in a Washington, D.C., hotel.
In calling for prayer for the United States, Trump said, “Let us pray for the courage to pursue justice and the wisdom to forge peace. Let us pray for a future where every child has a warm, safe and loving home.
“Let us come together for the good of our people, for the strength of our families, for the safety of our citizens, for the fulfillment of our deepest hopes and our highest potential,” he said. “And let us always give thanks for the miracle of life, the majesty of creation and the grace of almighty God.”
At the breakfast, Trump repeated a line from his State of the Union speech Feb. 5, saying, “All children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.”
He also told the audience, “As part of our commitment to building a just and loving society, we must build a culture that cherishes the dignity and sanctity of innocent human life.
“Every life is sacred, and every soul is a precious gift from heaven,” he said. “As the Lord says in Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart,'” which is from Jeremiah 1:5.
On the growing struggle for some religious foster care and adoption organizations, Trump said his administration “is working to ensure that faith-based adoption agencies are able to help vulnerable children find their forever families while following their deeply held beliefs.”
Foster care and adoption entities in some states have halted their services rather than violate their religious beliefs by placing children with same-sex couples.
“As president, I will always cherish, honor and protect the believers who uplift our communities and sustain our nation to ensure that people of faith can always contribute to our society,” Trump said.
The president also cited his administration’s work to combat religious persecution overseas and human trafficking, as well as the imprisonment of American citizens by foreign countries. He introduced Andrew Brunson, an American pastor who was freed in October after two years in a Turkish prison.
Trump also introduced Elan Carr, the newly named special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.
The president said many of the great movements in American history “have been led by people of faith and started in prayer. When we open our hearts to faith, we fill our hearts with love.”
He named America’s independence and the extension of voting rights to women as examples but seemed to conflate mistakenly the abolitionist and civil rights movements when he said “abolition of civil rights.”
Gary Haugen, chief executive officer of International Justice Mission (IJM), offered encouragement to an audience that included many evangelical Christian leaders during his keynote speech.
“I believe it is the holy faithfulness of God that should keep us from growing weary in doing good, but we do grow weary, don’t we?” Haugen said. “For our American family, I do sense that we are in a national moment of perilously mounting discouragement.
“We can be so discouraged by all that is going wrong, that we are tempted to give up on seeking what is right.
“We should not grow weary in doing the good we know to do, because in the end an all-good and almighty God has the final say,” he said. “But at the same time, we should not grow weary in humbly seeking what is right, for you and I are not all good and we are surely missing what is right if we do not pause to tremble.”
IJM is a leader in the effort to end human trafficking, and Feb. 7 is Shine a Light on Slavery Day.
The efforts of the United States and other governments mean “[we] could see this ancient sin end for good,” Haugen said. “If we just do the good we can all agree needs to be done, we can see the God of Exodus sweep slavery into His dustbin of history.”
In introducing Trump, Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a Southern Baptist, read I Timothy 2:1-2, where the apostle Paul calls for prayers for those in authority.
Lankford and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., served as co-chairmen of this year’s prayer breakfast.
The National Prayer Breakfast, which is sponsored by an evangelical Christian organization, began in 1953 during President Eisenhower’s first administration, and every president since has spoken at the event.