WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s evolution from twice-divorced casino owner viewed warily by Christian conservatives to evangelical favorite defending religious liberty was on full display Friday as he promised conservatives a return to traditional American values, including restoring “Merry Christmas” to the national discourse.

Trump, the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit, ticked off the promises he’s fulfilled to evangelical Christians and other conservatives, pledging to turn back the clock in what he described as a nation that has drifted away from its religious roots.

“How times have changed, but you know what, now they are changing back again, just remember that,” Trump told the cheering crowd.

He bemoaned the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a secular seasonal greeting and vowed a return to “Merry Christmas.”

He noted, as Christian conservatives often do, that there are four references to the “creator” in the Declaration of Independence, saying “religious liberty is enshrined” in the nation’s founding documents.

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“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.

© © Copyright 2017, Winston-Salem Journal, Winston-Salem, NC

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