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Trump Signals Support for Evangelicals with New School-Prayer Guidance

President Trump boards Air Force One as he departs Washington for campaign travel to Toledo, Ohio, from Joint Base Andrews, Md., January 9, 2020. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The Trump administration proposed a raft of policies on Thursday intended to bolster religious freedom, in a bid to court Evangelical and other religious voters.

President Trump will also hold an event at the Oval Office Thursday in support of school prayer meant to coincide with National Religious Freedom Day.

One of the administration’s proposed rules would require states to report to the Department of Education instances of public schools denying students the opportunity to pray. An administration official told Politico that the rule would be “fulfilling a statutory requirement to issue guidance on constitutionally protected prayer in public elementary and secondary schools.”

Federal funding for public schools would be conditioned on fulfilling the requirement to report infringements on the right to prayer. Schools would also be required to make the same facilities available to religious and secular groups alike.

In a separate proposal, the administration wants to condition federal funding for colleges and universities on an institution’s intent not to deny religious groups the same benefits and rights received by secular groups.

“We propose to remove and amend regulations that would impose burdens on faith-based organizations, provide special benefits to faith-based organizations, or treat faith-based organizations and religious individuals differently than other organizations or individuals,” the proposal reads.

The initiatives by the Trump administration come following condemnation of the President in December from Christianity Today, an Evangelical magazine founded by pastor Billy Graham but which for years has not been closely associated with the Graham family.

“To the many evangelicals who continue to support Mr. Trump in spite of his blackened moral record, we might say this: Remember who you are and whom you serve,” wrote editor Mark Galli in an op-ed. “Consider how your justification of Mr. Trump influences your witness to your Lord and Savior”

The President slammed the magazine on Twitter soon after the op-ed’s publication.

Christianity Today “knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a routine phone call and would rather have a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President,” Trump wrote.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

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