Metro Weekly

Trump vows to defend “religious liberty”

Trump promises to fulfill evangelical wish list at Values Voter Summit

Trump (Credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons).

Donald Trump – Credit: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

“I have pledged to appoint judges who uphold the Constitution, to protect your religious liberty, and apply the law as written. We reject judges who rewrite the Constitution to impose their own personal views on 300 million-plus Americans.”

–Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, in a speech given at the Values Voter Summit in Washington on Friday. The summit is designed to appeal to evangelical voters, cultural conservatives and features a number of organizations affiliated with the Religious Right. The event typically attracts Republican presidential candidates, who use it as an opportunity to reassure right-wing voters that they share their values.

At the start of his speech, Trump thanked LGBT right opponent Tony Perkins, president of the right-wing think tank Family Research Council, for his “years of leadership.” The candidate also praised evangelist Franklin Graham, who has also deployed anti-LGBT rhetoric.

“Your values of love, charity and faith built this nation,” Trump said, in a by-now familiar disparagement of the media. “So how can it be that our media treats people of faith so poorly? … [In] A Trump administration, our Christian heritage will be cherished, protected, defended, like you’ve never seen before.”

Trump also touched on two campaign promises that drive the bulk of his support in the Religious Right: his pledge to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices as well as to change the law to allow religious institutions to become fully involved in politics without losing their tax-exempt status.

“Your great people, the people you rely on on Sunday and during the week, they’ve been stopped from talking. And speaking. By a law,” Trump said. “And we’re going to get rid of that law. We’re going to get rid of it so fast.”

Trump also portrayed the election as the “last chance” for evangelicals to influence policy and urged them to get out and vote, otherwise “it could be a very unhappy Nov. 8.”

Trump’s speech to the 2016 Values Voter Summit falls on the same weekend — and in the same city — as the Human Rights Campaign’s National Dinner, where, on Saturday, Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Tim Kaine (Va.) will address members of the LGBT community. Kaine is expected to contrast the record and vision of running-mate Hillary Clinton,on LGBT issues with positions taken by Trump and his running mate,  Indiana governor Mike Pence.

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com