President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday that established a new faith-based initiative under the executive office of the president.
The White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative aims to “to ensure that the faith-based and community organizations that form the bedrock of our society have strong advocates in the White House and throughout the Federal Government,” according to an administration read out. The executive order also created a new position to head up the department: Advisor to the White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative.
According to the White House, the newly established measure will provide policy recommendations, advocate for religious freedoms, and hold the executive accountable with concern to religious liberty protections.
Religiously minded departments existed in prior administrations, too. President Obama established the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives lived under former president George W. Bush’s administration.
In his proclamation released shortly before the ceremony, Trump wrote: “We join together to offer gratitude for our many blessings and to acknowledge our need for divine wisdom, guidance, and protection.”
Trump’s signing coincides with this year’s National Day of Prayer. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence hosted a ceremony in the Whtie House Rose Garden for members of the interfaith community and members of their staff.
“This financial threat against the faith community is over,” Trump said. “No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors.”
“We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced any more,” Trump added.
Then, in September, Trump designed a second National Day of Prayer to honor the victims of Hurricane Harvey. In addition to a proclamation of prayer, Trump alotted $1 million of his own funds to aid the hurricane relief efforts.