President Trump vows to support and defend religious freedom in US
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