President Trump reaffirmed his support for religious liberty on Wednesday in celebration of Religious Freedom Day.
In his proclamation to honor the day, President Trump praised religious liberty as being "innate to the dignity of every human person."
“On Religious Freedom Day, we celebrate our Nation’s long-standing commitment to freedom of conscience and the freedom to profess one’s own faith,” Trump said, according to Catholic News Agency. "The right to religious freedom is innate to the dignity of every human person and is foundational to the pursuit of truth."
President Trump also highlighted America's inherently religious founding, one in which many settlers "fled their home countries to escape religious persecution. Aware of this history, our Nation’s Founding Fathers readily understood that a just government must respect the deep yearning for truth and openness to the transcendent that are part of the human spirit. For this reason, from the beginning, our constitutional republic has endeavored to protect a robust understanding of religious freedom."
The president's comments affirming religious freedom come the same week that a federal judge ruled against protections installed by the Trump administration that gave broader religious exemptions to employers under the Obamacare mandate. The ruling came after several left-wing states filed suit in 2017 to overturn the rules put in place by the Trump administration, arguing that they violate women's rights. Though the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Little Sisters of the Poor in 2016, subsequent lawsuits have pushed them back to court.
The Trump administration lamented the decision as a setback against religious liberty.
"No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system," said Caitlin Oakley, spokeswoman for Health and Human Services. "The final rules affirm the Trump Administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution."
In the same proclamation commemorating Religious Freedom Day, President Trump emphasized that religious liberty is "under attack."
"Unfortunately, the fundamental human right to religious freedom is under attack," he said. "Efforts to circumscribe religious freedom — or to separate it from adjoining civil liberties, like property rights or free speech — are on the rise."
Trump cited the October 2018 attack on a synagogue and multiple attacks on people's faith as evidence that legislative attacks on religious freedom have resulted in "actual violence." He added that his administration is acting “to protect religious liberty and to seek justice against those who seek to abridge it.”
On the international front, the president said that his administration is dedicated to protecting men and women of faith overseas, noting that his Secretary of State convened a Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July 2018 to "listen] to the voices of those risking their lives for their religious beliefs, and … to the families of people who have died fighting for their fundamental right of conscience."
"Our Nation was founded on the premise that a just government abides by the 'Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.' As the Founders recognized, the Constitution protects religious freedom to secure the rights endowed to man by his very nature," he concluded. "On this day, we recognize this history and affirm our commitment to the preservation of religious freedom."