US president Donald Trump addressed the National Prayer Breakfast this morning and avoided controversy, praising the contribution of various delegates there and stressing the centrality of faith in American life.
He singled out Congressman Steve Scalise, who was shot at a practice session for the congressional baseball team in June last year and returned to his duties in September. Trump said he was proof that 'with God all things are possible'.
'America is a nation of believers and our hearts are strengthened by the power of prayer,' said Trump. He appeared to endorse the view that America was founded as a Christian nation when he said: 'Our founders invoked our creator four times in the Declaration of Independence; our currency declares, "In God we trust"; we put hands on hearts when we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and declare, "We are one nation under God".'
He continued: 'Our rights are not given to us by man, our rights come from our creator. No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away.'
He referred to acts of 'kindness and generosity' and to the charitable and humanitarian work that characterised Americans, and to the defeat of ISIS, saying: 'For years, ISIS had brutally tortured and murdered Christians, Jews, religious minorities and countless Muslims.' The territory the group once held had been almost completely liberated, he said, adding: 'Much work will always remain, but we will not rest until that job is completely done.'
Trump said: 'As the Bible tells us, we are God's handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works. American heroes rise to this calling. In their selfless deeds they reveal the beauty and goodness of the human soul.'
He concluded: 'As long as we open our eyes to God's grace and open our hearts to God's love, then America will forever be the land of the free and the home of the brave and a light to all nations.'
A large international audience was present for the breakfast, which was hosted by a Democrat and a Republican, Charlie Crist and Randy Hultgren.