On behalf of the President, Vice President Mike Pence addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast last week, using his speech to sell the crowd of religious leaders and devotees on the spiritual bona fides of the new administration. Pence emphasized the need for religious freedom, both domestically and globally, and said the U.S. is dedicated to ensuring liberty for all faiths.
“America condemns the persecution of any faith, in any place, at any time,” Pence said. “And we will confront it with all our might.”
But the vice president spent a good part of his speech selling the crowd on Trump’s commitment to religious issues.
While Pence was raised Catholic, he converted to evangelical Christianity in the 1990s and has been unabashed in speaking out about faith-based issues. The vice president has worked closely on policies related to religious freedom and abortion during this early period of the administration.
This includes an executive order Trump signed last month that he said would promote religious liberties by shielding religious organizations who take political stands from tax consequences and by asking federal agencies to consider loosening requirements that employers cover contraception in their insurance plans.
Many religious leaders, particularly evangelical Christians, have said they feel the executive order does not go far enough, however. Pence touted the policy Tuesday as an example of Trump’s work on safeguarding religious liberty.
“I can assure you this president believes that no American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life,” Pence said. “And he has not just talked about it, he has taken action to protect men and women of faith in the public square.”
As for the president, Trump had an audience with Pope Francis last month, which Pence described as a rich discussion of global issues. Observers said the pope, who has publicly criticized Trump’s plan to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, looked uncomfortable meeting the president.
“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said last year. Trump responded that the pontiff’s remarks were “disgraceful.”
Still, many of the Catholics attending last week’s prayer breakfast did not seem bothered by Trump’s comments or religious record.
About the Author
Andrew Bahl writes for Yahoo News.