Pres­i­dent Trump vows to sup­port and de­fend re­li­gious free­dom in US

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL - WASH­ING­TON: Ag­gres­sive use of Twit­ter Back­lash

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump vowed to sup­port and de­fend re­li­gious lib­erty, telling a gath­er­ing of evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians that the threat of ter­ror­ism is “one of the most grave and dire threats to re­li­gious free­dom in the world to­day.”“We can­not al­low this ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism to spread in our coun­try, or to find sanc­tu­ary on our shores or in our cities,” Trump said Satur­day night at a “Cel­e­brate Free­dom” con­cert hon­or­ing vet­er­ans. “We want to make sure that any­one who seeks to join our coun­try shares our val­ues and has the ca­pac­ity to love our peo­ple.” The evan­gel­i­cal megachurch First Bap­tist Dal­las and Salem Me­dia Group spon­sored the event at the John F Kennedy Cen­ter for the Per­form­ing Arts. First Bap­tist Pas­tor Robert Jef­fress was a strong backer of Trump dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign. The event at times felt like one of Trump’s sig­na­ture cam­paign ral­lies, with the pres­i­dent promis­ing an ador­ing crowd that Amer­ica would “win again” and prompt­ing cheers with at­tacks on the news me­dia.

“The fake me­dia tried to stop us from go­ing to the White House, but I’m pres­i­dent and they’re not,” he said. Trump ap­peared on a stage dec­o­rated with a mas­sive Amer­i­can flag. Choirs per­formed “The Bat­tle Hymn of the Repub­lic” and other hymns and de­buted a song with the lyrics “make Amer­ica great again” - Trump’s cam­paign slo­gan. Be­sides speak­ing to the event’s re­li­gious theme, Trump re­newed his cam­paign prom­ise to al­ways take care of Amer­ica’s vet­er­ans. “Not only has God be­stowed on us the gift of free­dom, he’s also given us the gift of he­roes will­ing to give their lives to de­fend that free­dom,” he said. Over­whelm­ing sup­port from evan­gel­i­cal vot­ers helped pro­pel Trump to vic­tory in 2016. Since he took of­fice, Chris­tian con­ser­va­tives have been over­joyed by Trump’s ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Neil Gor­such to the Supreme Court and his ex­ec­u­tive or­der or­der­ing the IRS to ease up on a rarely en­forced limit on par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity by churches. Trump was spend­ing the preIn­de­pen­dence Day week­end at his golf club in Bed­min­ster, New Jersey, but trav­eled back to Wash­ing­ton for the event.

In another de­vel­op­ment, Trump has de­fended his ag­gres­sive use of Twit­ter just hours af­ter fir­ing off his lat­est vol­ley in his es­ca­lat­ing feud with US me­dia. Fol­low­ing an early morn­ing Twit­ter tirade at CNN, NBC and a morn­ing show host he taunted as “dumb as a rock,” the pres­i­dent then went on the de­fen­sive, tout­ing his elec­toral ac­com­plish­ments as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for his in­creas­ingly hos­tile rhetoric. “The FAKE & FRAUD­U­LENT NEWS ME­DIA is working hard to con­vince Repub­li­cans and oth­ers I should not use so­cial me­dia - but re­mem­ber, I won the 2016 elec­tion with in­ter­views, speeches and so­cial me­dia,” Trump said on Twit­ter.

“I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will con­tinue to WIN!” he posted, be­fore end­ing the day at a rally in Wash­ing­ton that in­cluded a sim­i­lar an­ti­me­dia bar­rage. In re­cent days, the US leader has railed against ma­jor news or­ga­ni­za­tions as “fake news,” and launched a crude per­sonal at­tack on Mika Brzezin­ski and Joe Scar­bor­ough, who head­line the “Morn­ing Joe” pro­gram on the left-lean­ing MSNBC ca­ble net­work.

“Crazy Joe Scar­bor­ough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad peo­ple, but their low rated show is dom­i­nated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!” he wrote Satur­day, seem­ingly try­ing to get in the fi­nal word in his clash with the jour­nal­ists. Ap­par­ently stung by crit­i­cal cov­er­age on the show, Trump on Thurs­day had tweeted: “I heard poorly rated @Morn­ing_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch any­more). “Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psy­cho Joe came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and in­sisted on join­ing me. She was bleed­ing badly from a face-lift. I said no!”

The com­ments sparked a ma­jor back­lash, as well as con­dem­na­tion from within Trump’s own Repub­li­can Party. The TV hosts re­sponded on Fri­day with an opin­ion piece in The Wash­ing­ton Post ti­tled “Don­ald Trump is not well,” ques­tion­ing his “un­moored be­hav­ior” and fit­ness to serve. Trump also tar­geted CNN, a fre­quent punch­ing bag for the pres­i­dent. “I am ex­tremely pleased to see that @CNN has fi­nally been ex­posed as #FakeNews and garbage jour­nal­ism. It’s about time!” he tweeted, re­fer­ring to an ar­ti­cle that the ca­ble news chan­nel re­tracted, that claimed Congress was in­ves­ti­gat­ing links be­tween Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion and a Rus­sian in­vest­ment fund. Three CNN jour­nal­ists re­signed over the ar­ti­cle, which was posted on the net­work’s web­site on June 22 be­fore be­ing yanked the next day. “I am think­ing about chang­ing the name #FakeNews CNN to #FraudNewsCNN!”—Agen­cies

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