President Donald Trump had maintained a focus on several central campaign promises throughout his first term in the White House, including a vow to continue fighting for religious liberty.
As The Hill reported, the president took his latest stand on the matter this week by announcing a proclamation to mark the 850th anniversary of Thomas Becket’s death.
“Changed the course of history”
The English archbishop, who would later go on to be named a saint, was killed in 1170 by knights from the empire of King Henry II.
Becket was born roughly 50 years earlier and spent much of his life clashing with the king on the topic of rights afforded to the Catholic Church. He sought independence for the church, which was a controversial proposition at the time.
His influence on religious freedom was a key factor in Trump’s latest presidential proclamation.
“Thomas Becket’s martyrdom changed the course of history,” he wrote.
According to the proclamation, Becket’s activism “brought about numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the state over the Church across the West.”
“Enshrined as America’s first freedom”
Trump went on to tie in a key provision in the Magna Carta decades later to the impact of Becket’s life. The influential document declared that the “English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.”
Further focusing on the archbishop’s important contributions, Trump went on to cite the tangential impact on America’s constitutional liberties.
“Before the Magna Carta was drafted, before the right to free exercise of religion was enshrined as America’s first freedom in our glorious Constitution, Thomas gave his life so that, as he said, ‘the Church will attain liberty and peace,'” Trump wrote.
The Catholic News Agency noted that the president used his latest proclamation to call for the repeal of laws that restrict Americans from exercising their chosen religion.
Concluding with his assertion that faith plays a pivotal role in civil society, Trump wrote: “The tyranny and murder that shocked the conscience of the Middle Ages must never be allowed to happen again. As long as America stands, we will always defend religious liberty.”