May 15, 2017
When President Trump chose the college to deliver his first commencement address, he couldn't have picked a better one than Liberty University. And I'm not just saying that as LU alum! The message he delivered with that decision was just as important as the one he delivered at the podium. Once again, Donald Trump showed how much he values the Christian community and how committed he is to standing with them for the change they voted for in November. But the improbability of his win isn't lost on the president either. With a wry smile, he told the crowd of 50,000, "It's been a little over a year since I've spoken on your beautiful campus and so much has changed. Right here, the class of 2017 dressed in cap and gown, graduating to a totally brilliant future. And here I am standing before you as President of the United States, so I'm guessing -- there are some people here today who thought that either one of those things, either one, would really require major help from God. Do we agree?"
And with that, President Trump kicked off a speech that could not have been better -- not just for the graduates, but for every American hungry to see true freedom restored to their nation after eight long years of Barack Obama. The president didn't shy away from those topics either. Throughout his talk, he touched on a number of issues close to evangelicals' hearts. "America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers," he said. "When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth they prayed. When the Founders wrote the Declaration of Independence, they invoked our creator four times, because in America we don't worship government we worship God. That is why our elected officials put their hands on the Bible and say, 'So help me God,' as they take the oath of office. It is why our currency proudly declares, 'In God we trust,' and it's why we proudly proclaim that we are one nation under God every time we say the pledge of allegiance."
To loud applause he promised, "We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings." He wasn't just speaking to Liberty grads, but to his largest base of support: evangelicals -- who remain overwhelmingly supportive of the president. And his comments Saturday are a large reason why. "America is better when people put their faith into action. As long as I am your president, no one is ever going to stop you from practicing your faith or from preaching what's in your heart." And the administration is already taking steps to guarantee it. Not only is his rhetoric encouraging, but so is the record he's building to back it up. We've seen him tackle his pro-life agenda with a passion few expected. We've watched him make good on his vow to defend religious liberty. And we've seen him appoint principled men and women as leaders at every level of government and the courts.
"Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right. Be true to yourself, your country, and your beliefs," President Trump urged. "Always have the courage to be yourself." If anyone has that courage, it's this president. And we're grateful for the ways he's used it to advance our most cherished values. We look forward to seeing how this White House will continue defending religious liberty so that these graduates will have the freedom to do what the president challenged them.
For more on the significance of Trump's address, check out my interview this morning with Shannon Bream on Fox News "America's Newsroom."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.