In religious circles, Trump’s State of the Union address is receiving both praise and criticism, usually depending on how one already thought of the president beforehand.
According to Charisma News, evangelical leaders throughout the country are calling for increased unity and civility among Americans.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, for instance, remarked that there has been too much “finger-pointing” and “gotcha politics” being played in Washington. He claims that if this continues, both decency and moral courage will be lacking in Washington. As a result, he says, it’s time for Americans to come together, especially in defense of those in society who are more vulnerable — immigrants, the unborn, undocumented persons, addicts, inmates.
“In order to solve the nation’s most serious challenges, we must come together as one people who share on common destiny. We must work together, Democrats and Republicans, Independents and Libertarians, the Green Party and the Tea Party, to care for both the Dreaming child and the unborn; for the addict and the inmate; for the alien on our shores and the native-born forgotten man and woman. We can do it all, but it will require us all.”
Pastor Jentezen Franklin, a senior pastor at a church in Georgia, claims that he was encouraged by Trump’s suggestion that Americans set aside their differences.
According to Franklin, Americans need to be a peace with their neighbors, regardless of their skin color, and need to realize that all people in society are “created in the image of God.”
“If we are indeed to be unified, we must be at peace with our neighbors, regardless of one’s background or skin color,” Franklin says. “I remain hopeful that we can accomplish this. It’s not only the responsibility of our leaders to foster this change, it is each of our duties as citizens—each and every one of us created in the image of God.”
These same faith leaders, as well as Ronnie Floyd, the president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, were encouraged to hear Trump directly reference God and faith.
According to the National Catholic Reporter, many religious leaders are also criticizing Trump’s speech. In particular, many are upset about Trump’s definition of immigration reform and his approach to religious liberty.
The Sisters of Mercy, for instance, criticized Trump’s use of the term “chain migration” during his speech, a term that they claim is “dehumanizing and degrading to families.” They also added that family unification has long been a central pillar of US immigration policy.
Rabbi Jack Moline, the president of the Interfaith Alliance, claimed that Trump doesn’t have a proper understanding of the term “religious liberty.”
“Trump clearly doesn’t know what the words ‘religious liberty’ mean if he thinks he’s taken historic action to protect it,” he said. “His actions in his first year as president have in fact significantly undermined the rights of people of faith whose beliefs don’t align with the president’s allies in the Religious Right.”
Crux Now reports that among American Catholics, there is a very mixed reaction about the speech — more of a mixed reaction that among American evangelicals, who, according to recent polls, seem to have liked the speech.
Chad Pecknold, a professor of systematic theology at Catholic University of America, said that the speech was very “good,” and that he was pleased with the way that Trump “extolled the values and virtues of the American character itself.”
He then added, “For faithful Catholics, there were hopeful lines about the importance of faith and family, and the importance of hope that is expressed through the love of children.”
At the same time, many American Catholics were troubled by Trump’s plan to fix immigration, which includes building a border wall along the US-Mexico border. They were also troubled by some of his other comments, particularly those that implied that welfare recipients “are simply entitlement seekers.”
What did you think of Trump’s speech? Let us know what you think. In recent news, here are the Republican lawmakers involved in the deadly train crash this morning.
Read more at Christian Leaders React to Trump’s State of the Union.