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17 Reasons Why American Christians Celebrated in 2017

12-31-2017
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Major events in 2017 have given American Christians many reasons to celebrate.

CBN News takes a look back in a year-end review of some of the events that have given many Christians hope for the nation to return to its Christian heritage and hope for our brothers and sisters in the faith around the world.

Here are 17 reasons why many Christians were celebrating in 2017:  

1. Presidential Prayer in the Oval Office

The meeting between President Trump and evangelical leaders was planned by the White House in advance, but the prayer time was totally spontaneous. It came during a daylong listening session with the Office of Public Liaison.

After the meeting, Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council told his supporters that he's found the Trump administration to be "genuinely interested and responsive to the concerns of the evangelical community" and added that after 14 years in Washington, DC "I am more optimistic that we can change the course of this country."

"This was much more than a photo-op. The relationship between evangelicals and this White House is palpable. Look no further than the president's policies," says CBN News White House Correspondent Jennifer Wishon.

2. Trump Moving US Embassy to Jerusalem

Many Christians are celebrating President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the US embassy to the city of Jerusalem. It is seen as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy for the Jewish people.

White House officials say the decision is based on the "recognition of reality," affirming the fact that Jerusalem has been Israel's seat of power for the last seven decades.
 
"With this move, President Trump demonstrates the benefit of his outsider status. It's a reality other presidents allowed decades of politics, failed diplomacy and Arab threats to cloud," says CBN White House Correspondent Jennifer Wishon.

CBN News Senior Editor John Waage says, "Christians should celebrate the pending embassy move to Jerusalem despite the difficulties because it is part of the great miracle of our time: the return of the Jewish people to the land and the city the Lord promised to them."

After all, the Bible focuses clearly on Jerusalem in many places: "Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain." - Zechariah 8:3

3. The Museum of the Bible Opens in US Capital

The Museum of the Bible opened in November in the nation's capital. Designed to keep the attention of a 21st Century audience with cutting-edge interactive displays, the museum quickly succeeded in drawing thousands of visitors.

"I believe that visitors, when they come here, they're going to sense the truth of the Bible," says Anne Beiler, a board member of the museum. "We believe that the Bible speaks for itself and you cannot read the Bible or come here to this place without understanding that Jesus is the Word of God."

The 430,000 square-foot facility showcases more than 40,000 items related to the world's best-selling and most widely read book.

For centuries, people have traveled from all over the world to visit Jerusalem and to pray at the Western Wall. Now, one of these stones, from the Roman destruction of the Jewish Temple made the journey to the US and is in the museum's collection. And you can actually touch it!

4. Appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court

Neil Gorsuch was President Trump's first nominee to the US Supreme Court.  

"He's a true conservative," evangelist Franklin Graham told CBN News. "This man, certainly, for all of us Christians, we are very, very thankful that President Trump has nominated him, because he will protect religious liberty."

As a justice on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor in their legal battles against being forced to cover abortifacient contraceptives for their employees – something that would've violated their religious beliefs.

Evangelist and Pastor Greg Laurie said, "As Jefferson so eloquently reminded us, the God who gave us life gave us liberty, so I pray Judge Gorsuch never forgets to value each and every American as our Maker does."

5. Little Sisters of the Poor Win Religious Liberty Ruling

The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of Catholic nuns, won a significant ruling for religious liberty at the US Supreme Court.

Obamacare mandates were forcing them to provide coverage for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions or face millions of dollars in punitive fines.

The high court unanimously ordered lower courts to reconsider their argument for religious freedom. And while their case may be back in court, they did win a big victory at the highest court.

"The Supreme Court said that the Little Sisters are protected from having to pay these massive government fines or choose to violate their religious beliefs," says Stephanie Barclay at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

6. President Trump Points Nation to Jesus at Christmas

During his campaign, President Trump said he was going to bring "Merry Christmas" back, and he's done just that.

"As president of the United States it's my tremendous honor to finally wish America and the world a very Merry Christmas," he said at the annual lighting of the National Christmas Tree.  

And he took it a step further, putting the focus on Jesus.

"From the earliest days of our nation, Americans have known Christmas is a time for prayer and worship, for gratitude and good will, for peace and renewal. For Christians, this is a holy season, a celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ," the president said.

"The Christmas story began 2,000 years ago with a mother, a father, their baby son, and the most extraordinary gift of all – the gift of God's love for all of humanity," he continued.  

"Each one of us is a child of God. That is the true source of joy this time of year," President Trump said.

The president and First Lady Melania Trump also restored "Merry Christmas" to the White House Christmas card, which had not included that phrase during President Barack Obama's tenure.

7. Vice President Pence: A Pro-Life Evangelical in the White House

Vice President Mike Pence wasted no time showing how the new Trump Administration would be different in scope than the previous administration.  

Just one week after being sworn into office, Pence made history by addressing tens of thousands of pro-life supporters at January's March for Life. It was the first time a US vice president ever spoke at the event.

During his 12-year tenure as a congressman from Indiana, Pence was a leading advocate against abortion on Capitol Hill.

"In many ways Vice President Mike Pence is President Trump's North Star," says CBN News White House Correspondent Jennifer Wishon.

8. Trump Targets the Johnson Amendment

Less than one month after taking office, President Donald Trump told thousands of faith leaders he would "destroy" a law that keeps pastors from speaking about politics from the pulpit.   

The Johnson Amendment was created in 1954 by then Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson. It limits the free speech of pastors, essentially threatening to take away a church or non-profit's tax-exempt status for endorsing or opposing a political candidate.

"I will get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution," he promised at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

The president has tried to make good on his promise but still needs help from Congress to do it. 

9. A Pro-Life President, Part 1: Mexico City Policy & the Hyde Amendment

President Trump has aggressively followed through with his campaign promise to support the pro-life agenda – a promise that won over a demographic key to his electoral victory: evangelical Christians.

One of his very first actions as president was to reinstate the Mexico City Policy. With a stroke of his pen, Trump withheld US tax dollars from foreign non-governmental organizations that perform abortions or provide abortion referrals.
 
He's also vowed to make the Hyde Amendment law. That means instead of lawmakers having to attach the amendment to spending bills, it would become the law of the land that no federal tax dollars can be used to fund abortion-on-demand in the US.

The president also took a stand against China's forced abortions by cutting $32.5 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Those funds were redirected to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which provides medical care to families across the world.

"The outrage of the Obama administration's 'see no evil' policy that financed forced abortions and coerced sterilizations in China and other dictatorships is finally over," said Fr. Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. "The United Nations Population Fund is a broker of oppression. That our country funded this organization in violation of federal law is a disgrace."

10. A Pro-Life President, Part 2: Undoing Obama's Planned Parenthood Regulation

Shortly before leaving office, former President Barack Obama imposed a regulation that prohibited states from withdrawing their funding to Planned Parenthood. Obama imposed the ban after several states began taking action in the wake of undercover videotapes exposing Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted baby body parts.
 
A few months into the Trump administration the Senate voted to overthrow the regulation. That resulted in a 50-50 tie, which allowed Vice President Pence to step in and cast the tie-breaking vote.

"I've been in the political realm for 20 years and have been in pro-life advocacy for 30 years. We're nine months into his administration and he's been keeping his word. I'll go back to a Ronald Reagan slogan: 'Trust but Verify.' We'll continue to trust and hold him accountable, but we are on track to seeing the most pro-life president this country has ever seen," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.

The president’s efforts to roll back the Obamacare contraceptive coverage mandate that employers must provide birth control to workers at no cost was recently blocked by a federal judge's ruling.

11. White House Cabinet Bible Study

In April, CBN News White House Correspondent Jennifer Wishon broke the story that members of President Trump's cabinet are meeting together weekly for a Bible study.
 
The meetings are led by Ralph Drollinger, the founder of Capitol Ministries, who started working on arranging the Bible study during the Trump team's transition to the White House. Click here to see who attends.

"In terms of a country's health and direction, when its leaders are seeking God, the nation is in a position to be blessed by God in ways that are 'far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think,'" Drollinger told CBN News referring to Ephesians 3:20.
 
"These are the most influential people of the US government meeting weekly to study the Bible verse by verse and grow themselves spiritually, it's truly remarkable," says Wishon.

Drollinger sends his weekly Bible study to President Trump too and says he's welcome to attend the meeting anytime.

12. Congressional Prayers Upheld in Court: 'Our Rights Come from God'

Congress will continue opening their legislative sessions with a prayer after a challenge to the tradition by an atheist. A federal court ruled against the lawsuit brought by Daniel Barker, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation.

The judge pointed out that an opening prayer has been a part of Congress for more than two centuries and doesn't conflict with the establishment clause according to the US Supreme Court.

"Since the first session of the Continental Congress, our nation's legislature has opened with a prayer to God. Today, that tradition was upheld and the freedom to exercise religion was vindicated. The court rightfully dismissed the claims of an atheist that he had the right to deliver a secular invocation in place of the opening prayer," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said.  

13. Trump Admin Confronts Anti-Israel Bias at the UN

Since Nikki Haley headed to New York as President Trump's UN ambassador, the Trump administration has demonstrated time after time that it will not stand for the UN's ongoing hostility towards Israel.

In an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in early December, Ambassador Haley defended Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. She also criticized the UN for its hostility against the state of Israel.

"Over many years the United Nations has outrageously been one of the world's foremost centers of hostility towards Israel. The UN has done far more damage to the prospects of Middle East peace than to advance them," she told the assembled ambassadors. "We will not be a party to that. The United States no longer stands by when Israel is unfairly attacked in the United Nations."

In a separate move, the State Department withdrew from the United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) after a series of decisions by the UN body displayed what the Trump administration sees as clear hostility toward Israel.

Those moves include a May vote, on Israel's Independence Day, to approve a resolution rejecting any legal or historical claims by Israel to the city of Jerusalem. Then came a July vote to declare the city of Hebron in biblical Judea, which is the final resting place of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to be a Palestinian World Heritage site.

14. Defeat of ISIS and Their Genocide of Christians in Iraq and Syria

After years of the Islamic State's rampage across Iraq and Syria, committing genocide against religious minorities like Christians and Yazidis, US-backed forces finally helped to drive ISIS from regional strongholds.

Most recently, the wanton murders of 128 Christian men, women and children in one Syrian town came to an end when Syrian soldiers, backed by various militias, regained control of the town, which had been held by ISIS jihadists. Thousands of the town's Christian residents fled for their lives.

In early December, Iraq announced its war on the Islamic State terrorists was over after more than three years of combat operations.

15. Bypassing the UN to Get Aid Directly to Christian Refugees

Vice President Pence announced this fall the Trump administration has decided to bypass the UN in helping the Mideast victims of Islamic genocide to rebuild.

"The UN has too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities - especially religious minorities," Pence explained. "And while faith-based groups with proven track records and deep roots in the region are more than willing to assist, the United Nations continues to deny their funding requests."

"It is my privilege to announce that President Trump has ordered the State Department to stop funding the ineffective relief efforts of the United Nations and from this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID," Pence said.
 
16. A Fairer White House Press Office
 
From day one, it was evident President Trump's press office was going to operate differently, giving honest news outlets a seat at the table instead of just focusing on liberal media outlets like previous administrations.

In fact, CBN News was called upon for the second question of the first White House press briefing as then-Press Secretary Sean Spicer bypassed the mainstream media.
 
"It was immediately clear to me that it was a new day in Washington," says CBN News White House Correspondent Jennifer Wishon. "At least half of the US identifies as Christian and it's about time the White House started answering our questions in the press briefing room."

17. President Trump's Journey to Jesus

In an interview with CBN News in November, Vice President Pence spoke about his and President Trump's Christian faith.

"The president and I are believers," Pence told CBN News.

"I've been with this president in the Oval Office with religious leaders when people have asked to pause for a moment of prayer, and the president readily embraces that. I think he's always very humbled and grateful by the support of believers," Pence said.

And evangelicals from Trump's team of advisers say they've seen the change in his life.

"I can tell you Donald Trump is not the same man that you are hearing about from his past. He has had a radical change in his heart. He has had a heart change toward the things of God and the people of God, and he is surrounding himself with prayer warriors," says Mary Colbert, an evangelical leader who has attended meetings with the president.

President Trump even confirmed his Christian faith once again during his Christmas announcement when he referred to "OUR Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

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