Atheists are calling foul after President Trump only referenced Christianity, and specifically Jesus Christ, in his remarks Thursday at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast.
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,” Mr. Speckhardt said in a statement.
The secular group compared Mr. Trump’s speech unfavorably to those of previous presidents who acknowledged 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, a higher purpose,” specifically mentioning Hindus and Sikhs, as well as Jews, Catholics and Protestants.
Mr. Trump referenced the Bible at least twice in his address Thursday, mentioning Jesus both times.
At the beginning of his speech, he acknowledged House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was seriously injured in June when a gunman opened fire on Republicans practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Mr. Scalise delivered the keynote address at Thursday’s prayer breakfast.
“And to my friend, and everybody’s friend, Steve Scalise, we are so glad to have you with us today,” the president said. “Your presence reminds us of Jesus’ words in the book of Matthew, ‘with God all things are possible.'”
Mr. Trump also quoted Ephesians 2:10 in reference to teachers, policemen, first responders and members of the military who sacrifice their lives to serve and protect others.
“As the Bible tells us, ‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works,'” Mr. Trump said. “America’s heroes rise to this calling. In their selfless deeds, they reveal the beauty and goodness of the human soul.”
The American Humanist Association also blasted Mr. Trump for telling the story of Sophia Marie Campa-Peters, a 9-year-old girl who suffers from a rare disease that has caused her to endure multiple strokes. The president said Sophia’s recovery shows that she “has God on her side.”
The atheists said Mr. Trump attributed the child’s recovery “to an act of God” and failed to recognize the “doctors and scientists who worked to understand the disease, discover successful treatments, and provide this child with the best chance of returning to health.”
Mr. Trump also alluded several times to the centrality of Christianity in America’s founding and traditions.
He pointed to the words “one Nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “In God We Trust” on currency, “Laus Deo” (“Praise be to God”) etched atop the Washington Monument and the repeated references to a Creator who gives us rights in the Declaration of Independence.
“Our rights are not given to us by man, our rights come from our Creator,” Mr. Trump said. “No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away.”
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