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Trump pledges ‘America first’ in inaugural speech

In his 16-minute inaugural speech, Donald Trump told the crowd, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. Every decision … will be made to benefit American workers and American families.” (Screen capture from CNN.com)

WASHINGTON (BP) — Americans will once again come first in their own country, Donald Trump said Friday (Jan. 20) after being sworn in as the 45th president of the United States.

In his 16-minute inaugural speech, Trump told the crowd gathered on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol and the national mall, “What truly matters is not which party controls the government but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20, 2017, will be known as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.”

He said, “From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land. From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first. Every decision … will be made to benefit American workers and American families.”

Trump — the billionaire businessman who shocked many observers by defeating a crowded field of Republican opponents before upsetting Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — took the oath of office from Chief Justice John Roberts and succeeded Barack Obama, who served eight years as the first African-American president.

His victory in November concluded a rancorous political campaign that featured not only a deep division among Americans but a clear difference of opinion among Southern Baptists and other evangelical Christians regarding his candidacy.

In his speech, Trump sought to appeal to all citizens, saying, “We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny. The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.

“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”

Trump said of citizens who desire good schools and jobs, plus safe neighborhoods, “These are just and reasonable demands of a righteous people and a righteous republic.”

He seemed to equate America with the people of God on one or more occasions.

Trump cited Psalm 133:1 in saying, “The Bible tells us, ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.'”

He also said, “We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement. And most importantly, we will be protected by God.”

America is plagued by poverty, closed factories and a failed education system, Trump said. “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

“I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never, ever let you down,” he said. “America will start winning again, winning like never before. We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.”

Trump signaled an apparently different approach to international relations, saying, “We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone but rather to let it shine as an example. We will shine for everyone to follow.”

And regarding the threat to America’s security, he said the United States would “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”

Evangelicals and other social conservatives are hopeful Trump will help advance policies protecting the sanctity of human life and religious liberty. He is expected to issue some executive orders reversing those instituted by Obama. Trump can overturn the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate without congressional action. That regulation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires employers to provide their workers with coverage for contraceptives with mechanisms that can potentially induce abortions.

During the election campaign, some Southern Baptists and other evangelicals made clear their intention to vote for Trump because of his promises to nominate conservative justices to the Supreme Court and to support pro-life measures. Others declared they could vote for neither Trump nor Clinton because of character and/or policy issues.

On Election Day, 81 percent of voters who identified themselves as “white evangelical or white born-again Christians” said in exit polls they chose Trump.

Before Trump received the oath of office, Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas swore in the new vice president, Mike Pence.

Protests, sometimes violent, took place at several events before and after the inauguration. On Friday morning, protesters blocked some security checkpoints to the National Mall in an effort to prevent people from attending the inauguration, according to The Washington Post. In addition, nearly 70 Democrats in the House of Representatives boycotted the inaugural ceremony, the newspaper reported.

Reading Bible passages during the inaugural ceremony were Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse; Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

Offering prayers were Paula White-Cain, a televangelist and Florida pastor; Marvin Hier, a Jewish rabbi and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; and Wayne Jackson, a Detroit pastor.

Author: Tom Strode

Tom Strode serves as Washington correspondent for Baptist Press.

View more articles by Tom Strode.

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