President Donald Trump delivered remarks Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, mostly sticking to his teleprompter script in discussing religion in America.
“America is a nation that believes in redemption,” Trump told the audience adding that faith “transforms lives, heals communities and lifts up the forgotten.”
The annual multi-faith breakfast is held on the first Thursday of February each year. Lawmakers and religious leaders from about 70 countries gather at the Washington event, first organized in 1953. It is meant to bring bipartisan political leaders and their religious counterparts together to meet, pray and build relationships. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has headlined the event.
Trump thanked second lady Karen Pence and acknowledged that she just went back to teaching art at a “Christian school.” Trump did not elaborate more about the school, which received criticism for its anti-LGBT policies, but he did offer her a round of applause.
“Our incredible second lady Karen Pence and by the way, by the way, I’ve gotten to know Karen so well. She is a Marine Corps mom, a tremendous woman, a proud supporter of military families and she just recently went back to teaching art classes at a Christian school. Thank you. Thank you, Karen,” he said.
Trump also made anti-abortion rights statements without specifically mentioning abortion or policies.
“All children are made in the holy image of God. Every life is sacred and every soul is a precious gift from heaven,” he said, to raucous applause.
Trump also spoke of Pastor Andrew Brunson who was released from Turkey last year and noted that he would be walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding this weekend.
Trump joked: “Am I invited?”
Two years ago, attending his first faith breakfast, Trump veered off script and asked the room full of lawmakers, foreign dignitaries and religious leaders to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger so that ratings of his show – NBC’s “The Apprentice” – would go up.
Last year, he appeared amid fallout over a high-profile White House aide’s departure due to domestic abuse allegations.
CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.