WASHINGTON – Monday afternoon's celebration at the White House was nothing short of a state dinner – only President Donald Trump wasn't honoring a foreign head of state but evangelical leaders.
"America is a nation of believers and tonight we are joined by faith leaders from around the country," Trump declared.
Among the faith leaders being honored were Rev. Franklin Graham and Pastor Paula White.
This is one of my favorite pictures- not just from the unprecedented, amazing dinner celebrating Evangelicals @whitehouse last night but for far greater reasons! Over the years I have gotten to know Jared Kushner well! Working with him for many years I have discovered what makes him such a distinguished and outstanding human being- not only as a co-worker but watching him as a husband, father, son, brother and friend to many. His walk of compassion, humility, strength, courage, integrity and wisdom has and continues to benefit people from all walks of life! Our world is a better place because he gets up everyday fulfilling purpose with a rare passion and drive! Jared and @ivankatrump - we pray for you daily and send our deepest gratitude and love always! #candidmoment #jaredkushner #myson #makeadifference #WH #WHdinner #ivanka #grateful #creatinghistory
The president also took a moment to publicly express thanks for the late Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) service to America.
"Our hearts and prayers are going to the family of Sen. John McCain... and we very much appreciate everything Sen. McCain has done for our country," Trump said.
The president then shifted his focus to the dinner's purpose: honoring America's faith and freedom.
"In recent years, the government tried to undermine religious freedom, but the attacks on communities of faith are over. We have ended it," Trump said.
The commander in chief drummed up applause highlighting his administration's efforts to combat religious persecution.
"We brought home hostages from North Korea, including an American pastor, and we are fighting to release Pastor Brunson from Turkey and we have made great progress," Trump said.
Trump told the evangelical leaders it's imperative that people of faith vote in the midterms so the progress can continue. It was a sentiment that was echoed by Pastor Robert Jeffress, a staunch supporter of the president.
"They are facing the possibility of a Democrat Congress that if they take control of the legislature will either impeach this president from office or at least paralyze him while he is in office, and I think they rightly know evangelical don't want either of those to happen," Pastor Jeffress said.
Christians helped propel Trump into office in 2016 and Monday evening's White House affair was one way of showing his appreciation for their contribution to American society and pledging to protect their rights so their work can continue.
"The support you've given me has been incredible, but I really don't feel guilty because I have given you a lot back," Trump said.
The Faith & Freedom Coalition's Ralph Reed weighed in, saying, "The president just wanted to celebrate and not just that but what our churches and houses of worship do every day – to provide spiritual direction to the lost, heal the broken-hearted, to save marriages and lives – that goes every day in America."
.@realDonaldTrump delivers remarks at White House dinner celebrating the faith community. @POTUS thanked leaders for their many unheralded works of compassion and love for the least & lost. pic.twitter.com/zEWASjpFI7
— Ralph Reed (@ralphreed) August 28, 2018