May 16, 2017
Yesterday, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins was interviewed by Fox News anchor Shannon Bream on President Trump’s commencement address to the graduates of Liberty University.
Tony’s statements echo the sentiment of many evangelical Americans who are finally seeing steps taken on the issues that motivated them to go to the ballot box. In this interview, Tony details some of the promises that have been kept by the Trump administration. As Tony states, we are truly seeing the beginning of a new chapter in American history.
See the transcript of his comments below:
>> Shannon: Tony Perkins, Family Research Council president and Liberty grad, joins me now. Thank you for joining us this morning Tony.
>> Tony: Good morning Shannon.
>> Shannon: To me the line that stood out was “we don’t worship the government; we worship God as Americans.” It’s a different message than what we’ve heard over the past few years and it seems like one the president tailored to that audience.
>>Tony: Without question. I think this was the president at his best. This was not only a great day for the graduates of 2017, I think it was a great day for the university. As a graduate of Liberty University, I’m proud of where this university has come in its short tenure, relatively speaking. I think the president really set the stage. He was not only speaking to the graduates, but I think he was speaking to his evangelical base across the country. One of the things that stuck out to me was this; he said, “We will always stand up for the right of all Americans to pray to God and to follow his teachings. America is beginning a new chapter.” If you look at what we’ve seen over the past eight years with the hostility toward religious expression outside of the four walls of a church, I do believe we have begun a new chapter in American history.
>> Shannon: He signed an executive order a couple of weeks ago and there were people within the evangelical community who were disappointed. They said it didn’t have enough teeth and that it was too watered down by people in the administration, possibly the Trump family, who may not have understood its aims or may have thought it could be construed to be negative and discriminatory. What did you make of the order?
>> Tony: I was there in the Rose Garden when he signed this and I had been discussing this for weeks with the administration. They’ve learned how every move they make is being challenged in the courts and I think they’ve grown wise in that. I think they’ve taken a strategic approach. Even so, most people don’t realize that portions of that order have already been challenged in court by atheist organizations. But I think this executive order is just one of many examples. Look at the selections he’s made to the Supreme Court and the lower courts. Look at what he’s done on the repeal and replace of Obamacare. There are pro-life provisions in there; defunding Planned Parenthood. Look, his speech matters; rhetoric is not just pure rhetoric. There is a record that he is amassing to back that up. We have truly begun a new chapter in American history where we have an administration that is not only welcoming of faith, but he said in his executive order that they will “vigorously protect and promote religious freedom.” For evangelicals that’s music to our ears.
>> Shannon: Well after the past few years with the Little Sisters of the Poor and the Hobby Lobby cases, that’s a different message that a lot of people want to hear. He also talked about being an outsider and how you should relish that opportunity, that was his message to the students, but it seems like something that he really relishes too, kind of stirring things up and poking people and doing things in a very different way.
>> Tony: Shannon, I think that’s why evangelicals in the end were attracted to him, because while they may have a slightly different world view, they face the same critics. I spoke at Liberty last fall right before the election, and my message was not very different from his. The crowd was a little smaller, but the message was live out your faith in the face of those who criticize you and have no fear of man, only a reverence for God, and I think that essentially was his message. Face your critics and live out your faith. You have an administration that is going to provide cover for you to do that.
>> Shannon: Well the crowd was smaller when I spoke at commencement, we’re not presidents. But anyway, Tony Perkins, good to see you, thanks.