Advocates of LGBT rights and religious freedom denounced President Donald Trump as he became the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit on October 13.
In his speech, Trump assured his supporters that “Judeo-Christian religious values” would be protected by his administration.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the Family Research Council (FRC), one of the groups behind the summit, as a hate group, tweeted that “speaking to anti-Muslim, anti-LGBT groups, Pres. Trump says he is proud to be among so many friends”.
The FRC’s website says: “Homosexual conduct is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large, and can never be affirmed.”
The annual event featured speakers with a clear record or anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant politics, including former Trump chief advisor Steve Bannon.
In his speech, Trump drew on his ubiquitous “Make America Great Again” slogan, promising a “return” to religious values supposedly upheld by the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
Despite a number of references to religious liberty, the president made clear throughout the speech that his concerns lie with the freedom to express Judeo-Christian beliefs. He invoked the alleged “War on Christmas”, promising: “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values.”
“We will not allow government workers to censor sermons or target our pastors or our ministers or rabbis,” the president said. “These are the people we want to hear from, and they’re not going to be silenced any longer.”
Trump, who has spent most of his life in socially progressive New York City, expressed liberal views about the LGBTI community prior to his run for president last year. He once said he supported an amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and noted that he “grew up in New York City, a town with different races, religions, and peoples. It breeds tolerance.”
[Abridged from Common Dreams.]