Sarah Sanders was asked a series of questions on a diverse range of topics at Tuesday’s White House Press briefing, but one exchange near the end took a particularly religious tone.
Newsmax White House correspondent John Gizzi asked Sanders about the president’s plan to attend Billy Graham’s funeral. Sanders said President Trump will be attending the funeral in North Carolina on Friday and will also be visiting Graham’s memorial as he lies and state in the US Capitol on Wednesday.
Sanders did not confirm if the president would be speaking at either event.
Then Gizzi asked a more personal question of Sanders. The reporter asked about Trump’s commitment to faith-based policy programs within the White House. Gizzi noted that Bush and Obama had similar programs and that Sanders father, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, had one also.
My other question is that the president’s two immediate predecessors did a lot to build and expand the faith based programs within the White House and throughout executive branch of government. Many governors followed that example. And your father. It has been said that this president has not followed through on that – that there is no faith-based office within the White House now. Your reactions?
Sanders knew exactly how to respond.
“Look, I don’t think an office is what determines the faith of the administration,” she said, noting that the president regularly meets with his “faith council and an advisory council” at the White House. The Bible study that Sanders is referring to is attended by HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.
The Christian meeting in the White House was recently attacked by an Atheist group, prompting Carson to say “I will not stop being a Christian while in service to this country.”
Sanders finished her comment, saying:
I think in terms of whether or not you have an office doesn’t determine the faith of the administration. I think we probably have actually more people front and center speaking openly about their faith and advocating and helping build on that foundation than probably any previous administration has.