President Trump underscored his administration’s commitment to families and religious freedom Friday, saying that “times have changed ... now they’re changing back.”
Trump addressed the Values Voter Summit Friday, marking a milestone as the first sitting president to appear before the group.
"In America, we don't worship government," Trump said. "We worship God."
The Values Voter Summit was created in 2006 to “preserve the bedrock values” of traditional marriage, religious liberty, sanctity of life, and limited government “that make our nation strong,” according to the group’s website.
Then-candidate Trump spoke at the summit last year, promising to return.
“I pledged that in a Trump administration, our nation’s religious heritage would be cherished, protected and defended like you have never seen before,” Trump said. “That’s what’s happening, and you see it every day.”
Trump pointed to the Founding Fathers, noting that “Our Creator was invoked four times in the Declaration of Independence.”
“How times have changed, but you know what? Now they’re changing back again. Just remember that,” Trump said in his Washington address.
Trump touched on foreign policy, even calling Iran a "terrorist nation" ahead of a major speech on the regime and the Obama-era nuclear deal.
Trump, meanwhile, listed his administration’s accomplishments and commitments to religious liberty, noting his executive order in May marking a “National Day of Prayer,” and simply “renewing the America we love.”
Last week, the Trump administration delivered on its commitment to religious liberty, with the Department of Health and Human Services rolling back the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, offering “full protection” to a range of companies and organizations that claim a “religious or moral objection” to providing birth control coverage.
The new policy unveiled last Friday is expanding the protections to any nonprofit group, non-publicly traded company, or higher education institution with religious or moral objections.
The Justice Department simultaneously announced “20 high-level principles” on religious liberty to “guide all agencies in complying with Federal law.”
“The Justice Department issued new guidance to all federal agencies to ensure no religious group is ever targeted under my administration,” Trump said, pointing to the Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious group that took their case on contraception to the Supreme Court, saying “they went through hell.”
“We want to really point out that Little Sisters of the Poor and people of faith live by a beautiful calling and we will not let bureaucrats take away that calling or those rights,” Trump said Friday. “Bureaucrats think they can run your lives and tell you how to live and what to say—but we know parents, not bureaucrats, know how to raise their children and create a thriving society.”
Trump also pivoted to another promise he made on the campaign trail.
“We’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season. They don’t use the word Christmas because they’re not politically correct,” Trump said, noting that department stores would be decorated in “red” but would say ‘happy new year’ instead. “We are saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
The president also underscored the administration’s commitment to “families.”
“As a Christmas gift to all of our hardworking families, we hope Congress will pass massive tax cuts for the American people,” Trump said. “That includes increasing the tax credit and expanding it to eliminate the marriage penalty, because we know that the American family is the true bedrock of the American life.”
Other speakers for this year’s event include House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La.; Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C.; Mike Johnson, R-La.; Mark Walker, R-N.C.; Roy Moore; former White House aide Sebastian Gorka, and former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.