President Donald Trump dove into America’s culture wars on Friday, touting his administration for “returning moral clarity to our view of the world” and ending “attacks on Judeo-Christian values.”
President Trump, nine months into his presidency, has found it harder to get things done than the ease with which he made promises on the campaign trail, making speeches to adoring audiences like Friday’s in Washington key to boosting the President’s morale. And the audience at the Values Voter Summit, an annual socially conservative conference, didn’t fail to deliver.
“We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values,” President Trump said to applause, before slamming people who don’t say “Merry Christmas.”
“They don’t use the word Christmas because it is not politically correct,” President Trump said, complaining that department stores will use red and Christmas decorations but say “Happy New Year.” “We’re saying Merry Christmas again.”
The comment drew thunderous applause.
Heated debates over the “War On Christmas” have raged for years, with many on the right complaining that political correctness has made it less acceptable to say Merry Christmas. President Trump has seized on these feelings, regularly telling primarily religious audiences that his presidency has made it acceptable to “start saying Merry Christmas again.”
“You go into a department store. When was the last time you saw ‘Merry Christmas?’ You don’t see it anymore,” President Trump said on the campaign trail. “They want to be politically correct. If I’m president, you will see ‘Merry Christmas’ in department stores, believe me, believe me.”
“America is a nation of believers and together we are strengthened and sustained by the power of prayer,” President Trump said.
This is not the first time President Trump has addressed the group and initially he was not universally well received. Speaking before the group in 2015, President Trump got booed when he referred to Sen. Marco Rubio, then a 2016 presidential candidate, a “clown.”
President Trump, facing difficultly in getting Congress to work with him on a host of issues, has focused more on his political base lately, catering to the conservative voters for vaulted him from reality TV star to President.
The President needled Congress on Friday.
“Congress forgot what their pledges are,” he said about health care, faulting them for requiring the Trump administration to take a “different route” on repealing Obamacare.
Most recently, President Trump rolled back an Obamacare rule that required employers to provide birth control coverage as part of their health insurances packages. President Trump scraped that plan with a new rule that would exempt employers whose religious or moral beliefs conflict with providing contraceptive coverage.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, heralded that decision, arguing that it showed President Trump is committed to “undoing the anti-faith policies of the previous administration and restoring true religious freedom.”