Vice President Mike Pence expressed the importance of faith during this “dark hour” in America, after two back-to-back mass shooters rattled the country over the weekend.
“As the president said, now is the time to set destructive partisanship aside and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion, and love. Now is the time to overcome evil with good,” Pence said while addressing the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom. “It has always been true throughout the long history of this country, in times of trial, the American people turn to faith and prayer.”
“In this dark hour for the people of El Paso and Dayton, we do well to pray, pray for healing, pray for the families of those that were lost and injured, pray for those communities, and for our nation as a whole,” he continued. “We also do well in this time to recognize that the greatest source of community in the modern world is faith. Our nation was built upon strong voluntary associations and depends upon them today more than ever before.”
Pence’s remarks come on the heels of two deadly mass shootings that occurred only hours apart from one another over the weekend. A gunman opened fire in an El Paso, Texas shopping complex on Saturday, murdering more than 20 individuals and injuring over two dozen others. A second gunman took the lives of nine victims and injured nearly 30 others after he gunned down people in a bar in Dayton, Ohio early Sunday morning.
“From the American founding, voluntary associations — churches, synagogues, places of worship, and religious education — have been at the center of American communities and they are the wellspring of American strength,” Pence said. “But as you all know well, we live in a time where we’ve seen people driving religion from the public square and it’s even become fashionable for many in the media and popular culture to mock religious belief.”
The vice president noted that freedom of religion was enshrined as the first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights because not only was it the center of the American Founding, but also a keystone of a free society.
Pence further explained that under President Donald Trump, the administration has stood alongside people of faith in defending religion. Quoting a letter from the country’s first vice president, John Adams, Pence stated: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
“We’ve taken action to protect the freedom of speech in places of worship,” Pence said. “We’ve restored federal enforcement in our nation’s conscience laws and taken action to protect the conscience rights of doctors, and nurses, and healthcare providers. We’ve also gone to court to protect the right to religious expression in the public square.”
The vice president urged the crowd to continue to stand up for “our first freedom” and pledged that the Trump administration would continue to stand alongside.
“Let’s pray for the people of El Paso and Dayton,” Pence said. “As we pray, let us resolve to act to make our communities safer. Let us resolve that we will do our part to ensure that our heritage of family and faith and freedom is renewed and preserved for this generation and the next.”
“God bless the people of El Paso and Dayton and God bless all of you here to defend faith and freedom for the American people,” he added. “And may God bless America.”