Beliefnet News

Christopher Halloran/

Christopher Halloran/

President Trump spoke about the link between faith in God and national greatness at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. He also declared that the United States of America will be a great nation provided its citizens remain open to the grace of God.

“As long as we can open our eyes to God’s grace and open our hearts to God’s love, then America will forever be the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a light to all nations,” said Trump.

“When Americans are able to live by their convictions to speak openly of their faith and to teach their children what is right, our families thrive, our communities flourish, and our nation can achieve anything at all.”

Trump also spoke on the religious heritage of the United States, pointing to the national motto “In God We Trust” on money and “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, adding that “throughout our history, we see the story of God’s providence.”

“Our rights are not given to us by man, our rights come from our Creator. No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away,” Trump said.

Trump’s statements were part of the annual National Prayer Breakfast, a major DC-area event that features several members of Congress, world leaders, religious leaders and other honored guests.

The National Prayer breakfast is a massive ecumenical gathering put on annually by a group of Christians who want to focus on a shared admiration of Jesus. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has attended the event, which draws several thousand people from around the world, especially evangelicals, who have proved strong supporters of the Trump administration.

Trump also referenced the Bible at least twice in his address, mentioning Jesus both times.

One group that was not thrilled with his remarks? Atheists. They are calling foul after Trump only referenced Christianity, and specifically Jesus Christ, in his remarks on Thursday.

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said the president excluded Americans who practice other faiths or no faith at all.

“Trump has taken these government-endorsed prayer breakfasts to a new low, demonstrating his ignorance and disdain for the growing diversity of faiths and philosophies found in the country he’s supposed to be leading,” Speckhardt said in a statement.

The group compared his speech unfavorably to those previous presidents who acknowledge faith traditions other than Christianity. In his 2010 remarks President Obama called on “Americans of every faith, and no faith,” to unite “around a common purpose,” specifically mentioning Hindus and Sikhs, as wells as Jews, Catholics and Protestants.

While some groups felt Trump ignored the 33 percent of Americans that are not Christian, other groups are praising Trump for strongly declaring God’s place in our nation.

Trump’s message was clear – that God has a uniquely Christian purpose for the United States.