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President Trump is dedicated to America, to liberty, and to religious freedom.
Today, he announced that he will be taking historic steps towards ensuring that students have the right to pray in schools under the First Amendment.
“We call this the right to pray,” said Trump in his announcement, “there is nothing more important than that I would say.”
Trump also promised,
“We will not let anyone push God from the public square. We will uphold religious liberty for all and I want to thank you all.”
Check it out:
ABC News has more details:
President Donald Trump issued new guidance on Thursday, asserting a First Amendment right of students to pray in public schools across the United States.
The president -- as he looks to gain more support from evangelical Christians, typically one of his most loyal constituencies -- is also taking steps to make it easier for religious organizations to gain access to federal programs.
"We will not let anyone push God from the public square," Trump said Thursday afternoon, speaking from the Oval Office on National Religious Freedom Day -- where he welcomed students from Christian, Jewish and Muslim backgrounds. "We will uphold religious liberty for all and I want to thank you all."
Trump said the directive is a way for the administration to "safeguard" students' religious freedom rights.
"We call this the right to pray," he said, adding "there is nothing more important than that I would say."
But it didn't stop with students, the Office of Management and Budget followed suit releasing a memo that will require federal agencies establish grant-making processes that comply with First Amendment protections.
Nine agencies are also set to release proposed rules to ensure religious and non-religious organizations are treated equally by the federal government.
The Trump administration's guidance will also give students and parents the platform to make complaints about religious discrimination to state education departments, according to administration officials.
In amplifying the president’s message, the Department of Education is set to send a letter to state education secretaries reminding them of students’ protected First Amendment religious rights.
"Too many misinterpret a separation of church and state as an invitation for government to separate people from their faith," Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. "In reality our Constitution doesn't exist to protect us from religion, it exist to protect religion from government."
Speaking at a Miami church in early January, Trump hinted that the action would be made official today -- Jan. 16.
"Very soon, I’ll be taking action to safeguard students and teachers’ First Amendment rights to pray in our schools," Trump said Thursday morning. "They want to take that right along with many other ones."
The guidance had not been updated since 2003.
An administration official pointed to the case of a group of middle school students in Texas who were repeatedly told not to pray in their school cafeteria during lunch break by the school principal, to highlight why the update is needed. The decision was later reversed by school district officials.
"President Trump is committed to making sure that people of faith, particularly children, are not subjected to illegal punishment or pressure for exercising their constitutionally protected rights," Grogan, the White House director of the Domestic Policy Council, said in a call to reporters.
Newsweek also said:
President Donald Trump announced Thursday that his administration would take steps to reinforce protections for students who would like to pray or practice their religion openly at public schools.
Initially reported in an NPR exclusive, Trump said that the Department of Education would mail letters to education officials across the country to remind them that neither students nor teachers could be denied their First Amendment right to practice their religion.
Further, federal funding for schools may be withheld if they do not allow students to freely practice their faiths.
The official Twitter account of the White House posted a video clip of the announcement, in which the president discussed the importance of safeguarding the First Amendment right to freedom of religion in public schools.
"This afternoon, we're proudly announcing historic steps to protect the First Amendment right to pray in public schools," Trump said. "So, you have the right to pray, and that's a very important and powerful right. There's nothing more important than that, I would say."
The president's actions "will empower students and others to know and exercise their rights," Joe Grogan, director of the U.S. Domestic Policy Council, said on a press call, as reported by BuzzFeed News.
Trump made the announcement on National Religious Freedom Day, which commemorates the day the Virginia General Assembly adopted the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. Written by Thomas Jefferson, the statute is considered an important milestone in guaranteeing free religious practice in America.
The move appeared to affirm the values of Trump's evangelical base, and reflected earlier statements he made about bringing prayer back to schools. As Reuters reported in January 2019, Trump said at a rally that "very soon" he would be "taking action to safeguard students and teachers' First Amendment rights to pray in our schools."