Trump promises to protect religious liberty and the unborn in State of the Union address

(Photo: NBC News)

Donald Trump used his annual State of the Union address on Tuesday evening to defend religious liberty and the life of the unborn.

In particular, the US President affirmed the right to pray in public schools, an issue that has been the source of disputes in some areas.

"My administration is also defending religious liberty, and that includes the constitutional right to pray in public schools," Trump said.

"In America, we don't punish prayer. We don't tear down crosses. We don't ban symbols of faith. We don't muzzle preachers and pastors.

"In America, we celebrate faith, we cherish religion, we lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God." 

Describing his administration's agenda as "relentlessly" pro-family, he said the goal was "to ensure that every baby has the best chance to thrive and grow". 

He continued by saying that "every child is a miracle of life" as he noted the increasing survival rate of babies born prematurely and asked Congress to provide an additional $50m in funding for neonatal research. 

"That is why I'm also calling upon members of Congress here tonight to pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion of babies," he said.

"Whether we are Republican, Democrat, or independent, surely we must all agree that every human life is a sacred gift from God." 

Elsewhere, he used his address to pay tribute to Christian humanitarian aid worker Kayla Mueller, who died while being held hostage by ISIS. Her parents, Carl and Marsha Mueller, were in the audience to hear Trump's address.

Trump concluded: "We are Americans. We are pioneers. We are the pathfinders. We settled the New World, we built the modern world, and we changed history forever by embracing the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.

"Our spirit is still young, the sun is still rising, God's grace is still shining, and, my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come.

"Thank you. God Bless You. And God Bless America."