Here’s What Trump Really Said on Life and Religious Liberty in New York

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)
Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

Yesterday, Jon Schweppe gave readers of The Pulse 2016 his thoughts after attending Donald Trump’s Tuesday meeting with religious conservatives in New York. His article summarized some of the assurances Trump made, but now that the official transcript of the meeting has been released, a more detailed picture has emerged of how the presumptive Republican nominee plans to protect and promote pro-life principles and religious freedom if elected.

During the meeting, Trump reiterated his promise to pick strictly pro-life Supreme Court justices if elected:

There are numerous things that we’re going to be doing. For one thing, we’re going to appoint great Supreme Court justices. [Applause]

And these will be Supreme Court justices that will be great intellects, that will be talented men in what they do (and women), but also be pro-life. . . .

“I’m putting pro-life judges on… Eleven, we’ve picked 11 so far. And we’ll pick a few more and they’ll be very similar. I’ve gotten tremendous reviews. The alternative is the opposite. There won’t be any pro-life judges put on there. They will be all pro-choice. They will be all, 100 percent.”

Trump also spoke frankly about religious freedom in the U.S., observing that the question of religious liberty is “the number one question,” and speaking at length regarding the Johnson Amendment:

The government has gotten so involved in your religion. Especially your religion, that it makes it very difficult. We’ll talk about that. Mike and I have been discussing it, and I think we have some very important things to say. The next president — it’s going to be vital. Not only with Supreme Court justices, which we’ll also talk about at length. But also in things like freeing up your religion, freeing up your thoughts, freeing up your. … You talk about religious liberty and religious freedom. You really don’t have religious freedom, if you really think about it, because when President Johnson had his tenure, he passed something that makes people very, very nervous to even talk to preserve their tax-exempt status. It’s taken a lot of power away from Christianity and other religions. I’ve seen it. This is something that I’ve brought up. I was telling Mike, I’ve been meeting with Paula White, who’s been so involved, Pastor Paula — she’s over here. And Darrell Scott and Pastor Burgess. We were at a meeting of 50 ministers, pastors, Christians, two rabbis. I said, “Why is it that the whole thing with Christianity, it’s not going in the right direction? It’s getting weaker, weaker, weaker from a societal standpoint?” And over the course of various meetings, I realized that there are petrified ministers and churches. They speak before 25,000 people, the most incredible speakers you could ever see, better than any politician by far. And yet when it comes to talking about it openly or who they support or why they support somebody because he’s a person — a man or a woman — who is into their values, they’re petrified to do it.

And I couldn’t get the answer. And then one day, at one of our meetings, somebody said, “They’re petrified of losing their tax-exempt status.” And I said, “What is that all about?” And they went into it. It was what happened during the Johnson administration. And I will tell you folks that some of you will agree, some of you will disagree, and some of you, it’s been ingrained and that’s the worst thing because you don’t even think about it. You can’t see the forest for the trees, some of you are so close to it. But I can tell you, I watched this during the last year, and I watched fear in the hearts of brave, incredible people. And we are going to get rid of that, because you should have the right to speak. [Applause]

[…]

When coaches aren’t allowed to pray on the field with their team, [applause] going into battle? That’s a disgrace, and that’s gonna change. And not everybody has to pray if they don’t want to, and that’s fine. But when a coach has a team and they’re going into battle and they’re restricted from praying — and they fire the coach! — those days will be over.

You can read the full transcript of Trump’s remarks here.

Chris Stach works for the American Principles Project.