President Donald Trump asserted during a religious conference that he had delivered for conservative Christian voters who had supported him during the 2016 election. The event coincided with former FBI Director James Comey's testimony before Congress.
On June 8, Trump addressed the Faith and Freedom Coalition's annual conference in Washington, D.C. The president pledged to implement policies popular among evangelical voters.
"We will always support our evangelical community and defend your right and the right of all Americans to follow and to live by the teachings of their faith," Trump told attendees, according to The Associated Press.
Trump's address occurred shortly after Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee. During that hearing, the former FBI director made a series of dramatic disclosures about his interactions with Trump that were potentially damaging to the president and his administration.
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Trump did not reference the Comey testimony but asserted before the gathering of evangelical activists that they were all being attacked by political enemies.
"We're under siege," Trump said, according to USA Today. "You understand that. The entrenched interests and failed, bitter voices in Washington will do everything in their power to try to stop us in this just, righteous cause."
The president added that his administration and religious conservative allies would "come out bigger and better and stronger than ever. You fought hard for me and now I'm fighting hard for all of you."
Trump drew massive support among Christian conservatives during the 2016 presidential race, despite his controversial personal life.
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A remarkable 81 percent of white evangelical Christian voters cast a ballot for Trump, a larger haul than either of the most recent GOP nominees John McCain and Mitt Romney managed. In 2004, former President George W. Bush drew only 78 percent of the white evangelical vote, according to the Pew Research Center.
Chairman Ralph Reed of the Faith and Freedom Coalition attributed Trump's strong performance among evangelicals to his explicit campaign promises to prioritize their preferred policies.
"I think if you really go back and you look at the campaign, it’s undeniable," Reed told The Hill. "He received an astonishing 81 percent of the evangelical vote in no small measure because of ironclad commitments he made that were explicit and unambiguous in areas of policy and personnel."
Trump asserted during his address that he had delivered for his evangelical supporters, citing his reinstatement of a rule prohibiting federal funding for international groups who provided abortion services, his relaxing of a rule that prohibits religious institutions from making campaign contributions, and his administration's plans to allow any company to refuse birth control coverage for its employees based on religious grounds.
"As long as I'm president, no one is going to stop you from following your faith or preaching what is in your heart," Trump said.