Trump says people using 'Merry Christmas' again

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

Trump, however, spoke at the event in 2015 and 2016. As we approach the end of the year-you know, we're getting near that attractive Christmas season that people don't talk about anymore.

"We defend our Constitution".

He noted, as Christian conservatives often do, that there are four references to the "creator" in the Declaration of Independence, saying "religious liberty is enshrined" in the nation's founding documents.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which classifies the Family Research Council, one of the groups behind the summit, as a hate group, tweeted about the gathering the president had chosen to address.

"We know that it's the family and the church - not government officials - who know best how to create strong and loving communities", Trump said. But you know what? We protect religious liberty. Now they're changing back again.

Trump, who received standing ovations throughout his speech, promised to restore "moral clarity" to the United States' view of the world, as he touted his success in office.

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He invoked the alleged "War on Christmas", promising, "We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values". And something I've said so much during the last two years, but I'll say it again as we approach the end of the year.

But there was no hesitation among the crowd in its fervor for Trump, as he threw out plenty of red meat and hit many religious themes, despite showing an unfamiliarity with Scripture in the past. "They don't use the word "Christmas" because it's not politically correct", he said, explaining that politically correct culture has made it hard to celebrate the holiday. As evidence of America's commitment to faith, Trump cited the inclusion of the words "one nation under God" in the pledge of allegiance. Americans are as free today as they were previous year or decades ago to say "Merry Christmas", or "Happy Holidays", or nothing at all.

Speaking at the Values Voter Summit, Trump boasted about "tremendous strides" against ISIS and his plan to decertify the Iran nuclear deal, while saying he hoped to give Americans a Christmas gift of tax reform and to deliver on scrapping Obamacare, after multiple failed repeal efforts.

Trump also issued a call for unity at the event, recalling recent tragedies affecting the nation, such as the mass shooting at Las Vegas, the wildfire claiming lives in California and devastation caused by hurricanes along the Gulf Coast, in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Reports suggest that Trump's appearance at the summit was his sure-fire way of strengthening ties with his evangelical Christian voter base.

Eight in 10 white evangelicals cast their vote for Trump last November, according to exit polls - a higher proportion than supported fellow Republicans George W Bush in 2004, John McCain in 2008 or Mitt Romney in 2012.

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