In a time plagued by evil, Americans need the ministry and message provided by Christian communicators, Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday at Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters' (NRB) International Christian Media Convention.
Speaking at the afternoon session of NRB's 75th annual gathering, Pence told the audience of communication professionals, "[Y]our ministry, your message, your values are needed now more than ever before. ... Every day, every hour, you speak strength to the heart of the American people. You shape our country. You water the roots of this nation."
The vice president said, "[Y]ou have the power to strengthen the character of this nation."
In introducing Pence, NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson described the vice president as a long-time "champion for life and liberty" who had his own radio program before being elected to Congress in 2000. Pence—who served as a congressman for 12 years and as Indiana's governor for four—received NRB's Faith and Freedom Award in 2009.
Pence surveyed for the crowd the advances by the Trump administration on a number of issues in its first year, including protecting the sanctity of human life and religious liberty. Near the end of his speech, he turned toward the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Florida, that resulted in the deaths of 17 students and adults.
"As a nation, we mourn with those who mourn and grieve with those who grieve," he said before making a promise.
With President Trump's leadership and the support of Congress and the states, "We will not rest until we make our schools safe," Pence said before adding the government is unable to accomplish this by itself.
"[L]et's recognize the evil that's been afoot in our nation for too long cannot be fixed by legislation alone, although legislation we need," he said. "Nor can it be fixed by law enforcement alone, though law enforcement we need to support.
"What we also need is greatness of heart, gentleness of spirit, the greatness that makes us respect [others despite differences]," Pence told listeners who gave him several standing ovations. "What we need is that shared sense of belonging again, one to another, each to all. That timeless value that made us great before will make us great again."
In addition, Americans need "to encourage more personal responsibility and speak more not less about virtue," he said. "What we need is to strengthen the bonds of community, family and faith. We must work to re-inspire society. ... [W]e need to revive the rich heritage of faith that can help repair the torn fabric of society."
The vice president pointed to the late evangelist Billy Graham as a model for the Christian communicators. Graham died Feb. 21 at the age of 99. His body will lie in honor in the U.S. Capitol Feb. 28 and March 1.
Graham's message "transcended politics," Pence said. "So must yours."
His message sprang from what has been for millions of Americans hope for the present and the future, the vice president said. "So, let's redeem the time by renewing the faith."
The vice president recalled the impact Graham's preaching had on his own family's life. Pence and his wife, Karen, took their children to the 1999 evangelistic meeting at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. They were seated high in the stadium when "Just as I Am" was sung as the invitation hymn, he said. Their 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter stepped out to go forward, and their father accompanied them to the floor, where the children prayed with a volunteer.
"I'll always believe in my heart of hearts that night, that walk, and that prayer—just like it did for millions of Americans—made a lasting difference," Pence said.
Pence described the Trump administration's first year as one of "promises made and promises kept." Among those pledges fulfilled, Pence cited:
- The move this May to Jerusalem of the American embassy in Israel.
- The restoration of a pro-life, family planning policy internationally and the empowering of states to defund Planned Parenthood.
- The nomination, followed by the confirmation, of conservative Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and other conservative judicial nominations.
- The direct support of Christian and other religious minorities in need of humanitarian relief instead of United Nations programs it considers ineffective.
Regarding the administration's record on religious liberty, Pence said, "This gathering knows all too well freedom of religion is under assault across the wide world. President Trump has made promoting religious freedom a foreign policy priority."
Domestically, the Trump White House "will always defend the right of Americans to speak and live out their convictions," the vice president told the audience. He thanked NRB for all it has done for faith and freedom.
Early in his speech, Pence introduced Dr. Ben Carson, a member of the Trump Cabinet also known for his Christian faith. Speaking briefly, Carson told the audience, "We have to stop being silent. Our job as people of faith is to do what's right."
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