Vice President Mike Pence told a gathering of American Catholic leaders Tuesday morning that they have an ally in President Donald Trump during a speech in Washington, D.C.
The vice president’s speech was a defense of Trump’s record on religious issues. Pence highlighted Trump’s executive order to restore religious liberty and his successful nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court after the death of conservative stalwart Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
“This president stands for religious liberty here in America, and around the world,” Pence said at the 13th annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. Despite a rash of negative headlines in the press, Pence’s aggressive defense of Trump was well received by the Catholic audience.
“I couldn’t be more proud to serve as vice president to a president that stands without apology for the sanctity of life,” Pence said. He highlighted Trump’s signature of the Mexico City policy, which blocks federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counseling or advocates for decriminalization.
The vice president also discussed the administration’s fight against terrorism, focusing on the religious persecution of Christian groups in the Middle East. He highlighted the Coptic Christian bombings on Palm Sunday in Egypt in early April.
“This administration hears you, this administration stands with you,” Pence promised the crowd, saying that the protection of persecuted people of faith is a foreign policy priority. “We’ll take the fight to the terrorist on our terms on their soil,” he asserted.
“He’s not just talked about it, he’s taken action to protect men and women of the faith,” he said.
The breakfast, established in 2004 in response to Saint John Paul II’s call for a “new Evangelization,” is an annual non-partisan gathering of Catholic religious, political and business leaders.
Pence served as a Catholic youth minister and wanted to be a priest, according to The Washington Post. He then joined an Evangelical megachurch in college during the mid-90s, telling a local paper that he made a commitment to Christ and that he was a “born-again evangelical Catholic.”
Trump won the Catholic vote in 2016, receiving as much as 52 percent of Catholics, and 60 percent of white Catholics. Trump did even better among “weekly churchgoers,” with 56 percent of the vote compared to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 40 percent.
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