Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Trump at Liberty University: "We don't worship government; we worship God"

President Donald Trump is delivering his first commencement address as president.

This was his first extended public appearance since firing Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey this week.

"America is better when people put their faith into action", Trump said.

Trump's commencement speaking schedule is slightly less busy than that of first-year President Obama in 2009. Justice Department officials began interviewing candidates in Washington on Saturday.

"Never, ever give up", Trump said.

[T] he president received a warm reception on Saturday from the roughly 50,000 commencement attendees - a record crowd for the university, he proudly declared.

"Following your convictions means you must be willing to face criticism from those who lack the same courage to do what is right, and they know what is right but they don't have the courage or the guts or the stamina to take it and to do it", Trump said in his address.

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"Carry yourself with dignity and pride".

"Be totally unafraid to challenge entrenched interests and failed power structures", Trump said.

Trump, who took office on January 20, also sounded familiar campaign themes about a broken system in Washington. "You must keep pushing forward".

Falwell, the son of the late televangelist and conservative activist Jerry Falwell, was widely seen as having helped Trump win 80 percent of the white evangelical vote. Just 39 per cent of the general public held the same view.

He said that Trump's executive order on religion and his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court are examples of how he is taking historic steps to protect Americans' religious liberty.

"When the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, they prayed".

The address had very obvious religious undertones.

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When Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Trump during the presidential campaign a year ago, he described the Republican as someone who "can lead our country to greatness again".

Trump spoke to an estimated 18,000 students from Liberty University, the largest evangelical university in the U.S., CBN News reported.

He also promised "regulatory relief" for those who object on religious grounds to the birth control coverage requirement in the Affordable Care Act health law.

As some graduates looked on donned in Make America Great Again hats, he proclaimed a faith-fueled version of American history and society, lifting up a version of Christian nationalism he first introduced during his speech at Inauguration Day.

No doubt many people told him his vision was impossible, and I am sure they continued to say that so long after he started, at the beginning with just 154 students, but the fact is no one has ever achieved anything significant without a chorus of critics standing on the sidelines explaining why it can't be done.

At a time when bipartisan debates continue to rule the airwaves, Trump encouraged graduates at the Lynchburg, Virginia, campus to resist letting big government rule every aspect of their lives, but instead to keep tuned into God's will - praising Him and following Him first and foremost.

Trump is scheduled to address graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, on Wednesday.

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