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The Difference a Year Makes: Johnnie Moore on Freedom of Religion in the Age of Trump

05-02-2018
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On Thursday, the nation's elected officials will be commemorating the National Day of Prayer. 

When asked about the significance of Thursday's National Day of Prayer in the Trump White House, Johnnie Moore, an unofficial spokesman for the president's faith advisory council, told CBN News one of his favorite phrases of the president is that he often says 'we're a nation of believers.' 

"We are a nation founded by people who pray.  A nation that prays in every session of Congress. In the 1950s, Congress actually passed a mandate for a National Day of Prayer every single year on this day.  So in every administration since that time, it has been commemorated, but in different ways."

Moore explained that President Bush observed the day with ceremonies in the east wing of the White House. President Obama issued proclamations. He didn't do formal events. He celebrated the day privately. But President Trump has decided to honor the day differently.

"For the second year in a row, President Trump has had a ceremony actually in the Rose Garden, which is just steps outside the Oval Office," Moore noted. "The only other president to do this was Ronald Reagan, one time in 1982. The whole ceremony was only eight minutes long and it was a meaningful thing. But it was just in and out. As it was last year, I think this year we are going to take our time praying for the country."

Just one year has passed since President Donald Trump signed his religious freedom executive order, but Moore says it's made all the difference in the world.

"I think the principle thing is...the purpose of that executive order which I think has been effectively done, was to order the various departments of the government to assess where their policies were causing a problem for religious freedom across the board," Moore said.  "We were really facing an existential moment as it relates to religious freedom. Practically speaking in various parts of the government. It has affected funding decisions. It's affected a number of court cases. There has been a lot of these material steps."

Moore says one of his critiques of the both the Bush and Obama administrations is that when religious liberty intersected with difficult cultural questions the administrations were too willing to forsake religious liberty rather than to sit down and talk about it.

"We just can't get rid of the first clause of the first sentence of the First Amendment. This has to exist," Moore explained. "No one would question religious liberty by this administration."  

CBN News' David Brody and Jenna Browder sat down to talk with Johnnie Moore about the National Day of Prayer, the progress of religious freedom, his access to the president and prison reform. Click the player to watch the interview. 

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