WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - President Trump is trumpeting a Catholic saint.
December 29 is the feast of St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr. Tuesday was the 850th anniversary of Becket's martyrdom.
In an official proclamation, Trump stated, "Thomas Becket's martyrdom changed the course of history. It eventually brought about numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the State over the Church across the West."
"In England," the president continued, "Becket's murder led to the Magna Carta's declaration 45 years later that: '[t]he English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.'"
President Trump tied in Becket's martyrdom with the issue of religious freedom in modern times, saying:
As Americans, we were first united by our belief that "rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God" and that defending liberty is more important than life itself. If we are to continue to be the land of the free, no government official, no governor, no bureaucrat, no judge and no legislator must be allowed to decree what is orthodox in matters of religion or to require religious believers to violate their consciences. No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous and virtuous society than the right to follow one's religious convictions. As I declared in Krasiński Square in Warsaw, Poland on July 6, 2017, the people of America and the people of the world still cry out: "We want God."
He went on to state, "We pray for religious believers everywhere who suffer persecution for their faith. We especially pray for their brave and inspiring shepherds — like Cdl. Joseph Zen of Hong Kong and Pastor Wang Yi of Chengdu — who are tireless witnesses to hope."
He has also been a pro-democracy voice in Hong Kong, as the communist government in Beijing has maneuvered to assert more direct control over Hong Kong.
President Trump's proclamation spoke at length about religious persecution and religious liberty, saying:
To honor Thomas Becket's memory, the crimes against people of faith must stop, prisoners of conscience must be released, laws restricting freedom of religion and belief must be repealed, and the vulnerable, the defenseless and the oppressed must be protected. The tyranny and murder that shocked the conscience of the Middle Ages must never be allowed to happen again
As long as America stands, we will always defend religious liberty. A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure — because justice, goodness and peace cannot prevail without the grace of God.
Religious liberty has been a major theme for the Trump administration.
For instance, in October 2017 the Trump administration broadened exemptions for the Obama-era contraceptive mandate — making it easier for employers who cannot in good conscience pay for their employees' contraceptives and abortifacients.
In July 2018, the administration rolled out the first annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom — highlighting the plight of persecuted believers around the world.
During the second ministerial in July 2019, President Trump had a televised meeting in the Oval Office with survivors of religious persecution — many of them Christians.