Earlier this week, while speaking before over 100 religious leaders at the National Day of Prayer dinner, President Donald Trump said prayer is the most powerful thing people can do, vowing that the United States would be a country that holds the practice in high esteem.
"America will be a nation that believes forever, and we certainly believe – more than anyone – the power of prayer," Trump said at the dinner, according to LifeSiteNews. "It's the most powerful thing there is."
Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and Hindus were all in attendance at the dinner. The president called it a moment of unity due to their shared love of God. "Tonight we break bread together united by our love of God, and we renew our resolve to protect the sacred freedom of religion – all of us," he said.
As noted by CBN, Trump also pointed out the spate of anti-religious hate crimes that have erupted recently against Christians and Muslims overseas and Jews on American soil.
"All of us in this room send our love and prayers to the Jewish Americans wounded at the Chabad of Poway shooting in California," said the president. "And our hearts break for the life of Laurie Gilbert-Kaye who was so wickedly taken from us."
"We mourn for the Christians murdered in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday and grieve for the Muslims murdered at their mosques in New Zealand," he added. "Here at home, we also remember the three historically black churches burned recently in Louisiana and the horrific shooting last year at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh."
This is not the first time Trump has praised the power of prayer. Last year, he said on the National Day of Prayer that the practice "changes hearts and transforms lives.”
“Our country was founded on prayer,” Trump said in 2018. "Our communities are sustained on prayer and our nation will be renewed by hard work, a lot of intelligence, and prayer.”
The president's praise of prayer came on the very same day his administration expanded conscience protections for health care workers, protecting doctors from the government forcing them to perform services against their religious beliefs, such as abortions. He touted this accomplishment at the National Day of Prayer Dinner.
"Just today we finalized new protections of conscience rights for physicians, pharmacists, nurses, teachers, students and faith-based charities," Trump said. "They’ve been wanting to do that for a long time."
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) denounced the new measure as a license to discriminate. "Religious liberty is a fundamental right, but it doesn’t include the right to discriminate or harm others," Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU said in a statement. "This rule threatens to prevent people from accessing critical medical care and may endanger people’s lives. … Medical standards, not religious belief, should guide medical care."
The Human Rights Campaign also denounced the new rule, arguing it would put LGBTQ patients at greater risk. "The administration’s decision puts LGBTQ people at greater risk of being denied necessary and appropriate health care solely based on their sexual orientation or gender identity," HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said in a statement. "Everyone deserves access to medically necessary care and should never be turned away because of who they are or who they love."