President Trump and The First Lady Host a Dinner Celebrating Evangelical Leadership


The President:
What a nice group. Thank you very much. Please. Melania and I are
thrilled to welcome you. And these are very
special friends of mine, Evangelical pastors and
leaders from all across the nation. We welcome you to
the White House. It’s a special place. It’s a place we love. We’re having a lot of fun,
we’re having a lot of success. Today we reached the
highest level in the history of the
stock market. We broke 26,000 – (applause) – so, I assume you
have some stock. And I view that
differently. We’re respected all over
the world again, and it means jobs. So, it’s a lot of good
things happening. I also want to thank a
family of faith that is truly a blessing
to our nation. I want to thank Vice
President Mike Pence and Karen Pence. Where are you, Mike? (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you, Mike. And our incredible First
Lady for hosting this evening. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) America is a nation
of believers. And tonight, we’re joined
by faith leaders from across the country who
believe in the dignity of life, the glory of God,
and the power of prayer. Everybody agree with that? Audience: Yes! (Applause.) The President: If you
didn’t, we’d have a big story, wouldn’t we? (Laughter.) I want to say a special
thank you to Paula White, Alveda King, Franklin
Graham, Jerry Falwell, Darrell Scott, Robert
Jeffress, Ralph Reed, Tony Perkins, Lester Warner,
and everyone here tonight. So many great,
great leaders. Incredible leaders. I know you, I watch
you, I see you. Yours are the words
we want to hear. I also understand that
tonight is the 58th wedding anniversary. So, we have a very big
wedding – where is he? Dr. James and
Shirley Dobson. Where are they? (Applause.) Where are they? That’s great. Congratulations. That’s something. Mrs. Dobson: Thank you for
throwing a party of us tonight. (Laughter.) The President:
That’s right. This is a party for you. We can look at it
that way, actually. (Laughter.) Thank you. Congratulations. We’re also joined by
Secretary Alex Azar, Secretary Ben Carson
— hello, Ben — (applause) – and Ambassador
Sam Brownback. (Applause.) Before going any further,
I want to extend our prayers and condolences to
the victims of the tragic shooting in
Jacksonville, Florida. That was a terrible
thing indeed. And how it happens,
nobody really knows. But they’ve done an
incredible job down in Jacksonville, as they
always do in Florida and throughout the country. But condolences. Also, our hearts and
prayers are going to the family of Senator
John McCain. There’s going to be a lot
of activity over the next number of days. And we very much
appreciate everything that Senator McCain has
done for our country. So, thank you very much. (Applause.) We’re here this evening
to celebrate America’s heritage of faith,
family, and freedom. As you know, in recent
years, the government tried to undermine
religious freedom. But the attacks on
communities of faith are over. We’ve ended it. We’ve ended it. (Applause.) Unlike some before us,
we are protecting your religious liberty. In the last 18 months
alone, we have stopped the Johnson Amendment from
interfering with your First Amendment rights. (Applause.) A big deal. It’s a big deal. We’ve taken action to
defend the religious conscience of doctors,
nurses, teachers, students, preachers, faith
groups, and religious employers. We sent the entire
executive branch guidance on protecting
religious liberty. Big deal. Brought the Faith and
Opportunity Initiative to the White House. Reinstated the Mexico City
Policy we first put into place. And if you know, if you
study it — and most of you know about this —
first under President Ronald Reagan, not since
then — the Mexico City Policy. (Applause.) We proposed regulations to
prevent Title 10 taxpayer funding from
subsidizing abortion. I was the first President
to stand in the Rose Garden to address
the March for Life. First one. (Applause.) My administration has
strongly spoken out against religious
persecution around the world, including the
persecution of Christians. All over the world,
what’s going on. (Applause.) And for that, we’ve become
not only a strong voice but a very, very
powerful force. We’re stopping a lot of
bad things from happening. We brought home hostages
from North Korea, including an
American pastor. And we’re fighting to
release Pastor Brunson from Turkey. (Applause.) And we’ve made
good progress. We’ve recognized the
capital of Israel and opened the U.S.
Embassy in Jerusalem. (Applause.) We’re restoring
opportunity for all Americans. African American, Hispanic
American, Asian American unemployment have all
recently achieved their lowest rates ever recorded
in the history of our country. (Applause.) And women’s unemployment
recently achieved its lowest rate in 65 years. (Applause.) Very important to me,
youth unemployment has reached its lowest rate
in nearly 50 years. And unemployment for
Americans without a high school diploma — think
of that – has reached its
lowest rate ever. (Applause.) We’re advancing prison
reform to give former inmates a second chance. And these incredible
unemployment numbers are probably the greatest
thing that ever happened to people getting out and
wanting a second, and sometimes a third, chance. But they’d come out of
prison, and they were not hired, and bad things
would happen, and they’d go back. Now they’re coming out of
prison, they’re getting jobs. We’re working with them. And they are very,
very thankful. I’ll tell you who else is
thankful: the employers. I have a friend who hired
numerous people coming out of prison – something he
never thought he’d do – and in a way, he was
forced to do it, frankly. He was forced to do it by
the fact that he couldn’t get people; he
needed people. The numbers are so
low in that community. He is so happy. He’s hired some people
that he said he hopes he never loses them. They’re happy, and
he is thrilled. So that’s a great story. A great story. (Applause.) Every day, we’re standing
for religious believers, because we know that faith
and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the
center of American life. (Applause.) And we know that freedom
is a gift from our Creator. Here in the State Dining
Room, carved into this fireplace, is the famous
prayer of John Adams. It says, “I pray Heaven
to bestow the best of Blessings on this House.” And that’s really
what it is. This is an
incredible house. Means so much. It means so much
to our country. It means so much
to the world. And it means, really, so
much to religion and to Christians. So, it’s an honor
to have you. Together, we will uplift
our nation in prayer, defend the sanctity of
life, and forever proudly remain one
nation under God. (Applause.) So, thank you again to all
of my friends and faith leaders for being
here tonight. You are really
special people. The support you’ve given
me has been incredible. But I really don’t feel
guilty because I have given you a lot back, just
about everything I promised. (Applause.) And as one of our great
pastors just said, “Actually, you’ve given us
much more, sir, than you promised.” And I think that’s
true, in many respects. (Applause.) And now I would like to
ask a tremendous friend of all of ours, Pastor Paula
White, to come up and bless our meal.

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