Washington, D.C. — Today, President Donald Trump used his remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast to attack his political opponents and openly mock those who express their faith in public life. In response, progressive faith leaders from the Center for American Progress and partner organizations discussed how the president’s policies have had a negative effect on people of faith.
Maggie Siddiqi, director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress:
It was particularly jarring that President Trump directly attacked Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for their expressions of faith at an event that is supposedly about prayer and bipartisanship. Speaker Pelosi has repeatedly stated that, amid all her differences with Trump, she still prays for him. Yesterday, Sen. Romney spoke with great emotion about his faith and how it obligated him to make the difficult political choice to vote to impeach. Anyone can see for themselves that the authenticity of their faith expressions is unmistakable. Yet Trump attacked them for it.
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice:
My Catholic faith is a diverse and welcoming one. President Trump, in word and action, consistently rejects immigrant communities of faith and people in poverty. His policies are harming immigrant families in my own place of worship, and his regulations attack the most vulnerable. This is not in keeping with any faith that I know of.
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Washington director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action:
The president’s words this morning were disturbing. While he generally spoke of religious minorities, the only religious community he explicitly named as supporting were Christians and Christianity. And I think that’s no accident. The years since President Trump took office have been among the most disconcerting and frightening for American Jews in recent memory. Nearly all American Jews believe antisemitism has increased in the last four years. This is a president who has brought white nationalism—its ideas, its rhetoric—out of the fringes and into the mainstream discourse.
Rev. Katey Zeh, interim chief executive officer, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice:
I am deeply troubled by the narrative of faith that this president and his supporters promote, particularly as it pertains to the dismantling of reproductive freedoms. They are advancing a myth that all people of faith and all religious traditions hold these extreme positions around abortion and reproductive health care more broadly, and that is simply not true. There are many faith groups and diverse religious traditions that value reproductive freedom and dignity as central to their faith value. This administration has weaponized Christianity to promote policies that strip women and all people of their bodily autonomy.
Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons, senior fellow for the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress:
The Trump-Pence administration has not been an ally of the LGBTQ community in its faith-based fight for equality. Instead, it is beholden to a conservative evangelical base that is hellbent on denying our God-given dignity. The Trump-Pence view of so-called religious liberty has nothing to do with religion: It’s giving some religious people a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people, many of us ourselves who are people of faith.
Rev. Dr. Renita J. Weems, senior fellow for Race and Ethnicity Policy, Center for American Progress:
I am concerned as a Black woman who is part of the African American church that we find ourselves watching an administration manipulating language about faith and Christianity and misquoting Jesus and Scripture at times. The president has created an atmosphere where white nationalists feel emboldened to come out and terrorize Black churches, progressive people, and people living on the margins. My community rejects the white nationalist policy that tramples on the poor, the voiceless, and the disenfranchised.
For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at gro.ssergorpnacirema@lenanahs, or 202-478-6327.