June 2019 Church & State Magazine - June 2019

Trump Admin Official Says Faith Drives Public-Policy Decisions

  Rob Boston

Mick Mulvaney, the White House’s chief of staff, told attendees at a prayer breakfast April 23 that faith drives many of the Trump administration’s public policy proposals.

Mulvaney was addressing the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. According to an account in Religion News Service (RNS), he asserted that “the principles of our faith [are] being manifest” under Trump.

“The president has allowed us, Christians of all denominations, folks from all different faiths … to be very vocal about their faith, and to practice their faith, and to take their faith and work it into our policies,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney, who is Catholic, also said that Trump personally added more lines about abortion to this year’s State of the Union address. Trump took that action, Mulvaney said, in response to media reports that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was supporting a bill that would allow for late-term abortions in certain cases.

Trump, a Presbyterian, is known for his courting of the largely evangelical Protestant Religious Right. But Mulvaney said he is comfortable working for the administration.

“I’m comfortable as a Catholic – even though I work for a gentleman who is not Roman Catholic – that the principles of our faith are alive and well, and well-respected in this administration, and are driving many of our policies,” he said. “That’s something I’m extraordinarily proud to be a part of.”

Mulvaney also told a story about attending an earlier prayer breakfast and reading a passage from the Book of Matthew where Jesus warns people not to pray in public because that’s what hypocrites do. He said a priest later told him that the passage really means that Jesus wanted people to do the opposite of what is popular.

RNS reported that also in attendance at the breakfast were Sam Brownback, former governor of Kan­sas and now U.S. ambassador for international religious freedom, and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a high-profile foe of legal abortion.

The day after the prayer breakfast, Trump traveled to Atlanta for a summit on opioid abuse. Trump lauded the role faith-based groups play in combating addiction, asserting, “America is a nation that believes in the power of prayer and the strength of fellowship and we believe in the grace of God.  And we’re proud of it.”

In related news:

Trump’s campaign manager believes the president was ordained by God. Brad Parscale issued a tweet April 30 that read, “There has never been and probably never will be a movement like this again. Only God could deliver such a savior to our nation, and only God could allow me to help. God bless America!”

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