WASHINGTON, D.C., September 12, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Donald Trump became the first presidential nominee to address the Values Voter Summit on Friday afternoon, making four specific promises to evangelical pro-life and pro-family voters.
Speaking to a packed ballroom at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump said the choice between him and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is as stark as it is obvious.
During “a Trump presidency, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended like you’ve never seen before,” he said.
“Your values of love, charity and faith built this nation,” he said. But “politicians have really abandoned you, to a large extent. And Hillary Clinton? You can forget about her.”
He then promised to:
1. Repeal the Johnson Amendment. The 1954 provision introduced by future President Lyndon B. Johnson forbids churches from endorsing specific candidates at the risk of losing their 501(c)3 tax-exempt status, something Mr. Trump called a “massive penalty.” To restore America’s religious liberty, “The first thing we have to do is give our churches their voice back,” he said.
2. Allocate $130 billion for school choice. Donald Trump laid a new emphasis on school choice, especially as a means of freeing poverty-stricken, primarily African-American and Hispanic children from failing inner city schools. He promised to create a $20 billion federal block grant, then leverage states to reallocate a total of $110 billion of their existing education budget for school choice. That would be parceled out in $12,000 choice scholarships, something he said was the cornerstone of “a new civil rights agenda for our time.” The funding would be available to “a private school, a religious school, a charter school or a magnet school. School choice also means that parents can home-school their children.”
3. Appoint Supreme Court justices like Antonin Scalia. The next president will appoint the successor to the late Justice Scalia and “as many as four others,” a responsibility he called “one of the most important issues, frankly, other than maybe defense.” He referenced the list of 11 judges he considered models for a high court appointment. “We reject judges who rewrite the Constitution to impose their own person views on 300 million-plus Americans,” he said. “You pick the wrong people, and you have a country that is no longer your country.”
4. End the genocide of Middle Eastern Christians. “ISIS is hunting down and exterminating what it calls the nation of the Cross. ISIS is carrying out a genocide against Christians in the Middle East. We cannot let this evil continue,” he said. He said he would use military, cyber warfare, financial pressure, and other forms of espionage and intrigue to first “make safe zones in the region” and then destroy “radical Islamic terrorism – words that our president won’t use and words that Hillary Clinton won’t use.”
That program would help unite the nation, which he lamented is more divided than ever before.
“Imagine what our country could accomplish if we started working together as one people under one God, saluting one flag,” he said. “It will be our faith in God and His teachings, in each other, that will lead us back to unity.”
Chris Slattery, who leads EMC Frontline Pregnancy Centers in New York City, told LifeSiteNews that Mr. Trump’s address was “probably the most specifically supportive of Christians by a presidential candidate in U.S. history.”
“I've believed his heart is truly in our causes and our values from the beginning,” said Slattery, who endorsed Trump early in the campaign.
Others were more skeptical about the candidate’s personal commitment but believed he would be the best candidate of the four major candidates in the race.
“Donald Trump gave the most specific speech about the evangelical community in the United States,” Brian Fitzpatrick of BarbWire.com told LifeSiteNews. “I couldn’t imagine John McCain or Mitt Romney doing that.”
“I think he will be far more receptive to the entreaties of the evangelical community than the Republican Establishment,” Fitzpatrick said. “He thinks like a Democratic politician – he will dance with the one that brought him to the dance.”
Early in the speech, the billionaire said he had long enjoyed a positive relationship with evangelicals, who helped establish him early in the primary process, especially in the South.
“A lot of people said, 'I wonder if Donald will get the evangelicals.' I got the evangelicals,” he said.
All segments of the Values Voters crowd seemed enamored of Mr. Trump. Bob Kustra – a retiree in Wisconsin attending the summit for the third time – said he supported Ted Cruz during the primaries but “pretty quickly” embraced Donald Trump, because “even though Trump was rambunctious,” he would protect American “freedom and liberty.”
First-time attendee Timothy Haley, 36, of McKinney, Texas, said he originally favored Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio but now backs Mr. Trump. He supports Trump's message of “good Christian standards, conservative values.”
Even those who had qualms with Trump planned to vote for him – or at least, against Hillary Clinton.
A two-decade Air Force veteran and retired ROTC instructor from Leesburg, Florida, told LifeSiteNews that this election was “hard. Both of the candidates have [stances] that go against my values. But I definitely can't go Hillary.”
He said that while he strongly supported Sen. Cruz during the primaries he will ultimately vote for Donald Trump — “but it still hurts a little.”
Not a single attendee who spoke with LifeSiteNews refused to vote for Donald Trump on November 8.