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Evangelical Leaders Respond to Trump Address With Passionate Pleas

U.S. President Donald J. Trump (L) gestures at the podium in front of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) during his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress inside the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Jan. 30, 2018. (Win McNamee/Reuters )

In response to Donald Trump's first State of the Union address Tuesday night, evangelical leaders across the country joined the president in calling for unity and civility among Americans.

"There has been far too much finger-pointing and 'gotcha politics' being played in Washington in recent times," Rev. Samuel Rodriguez says. "The schoolyard routine of racing to be the first to accuse the other side of wrongdoing will never solve our problems—only leadership, decency and moral courage can do that.

"In order to solve the nation's most serious challenges, we must come together as one people who share on common destiny. We must work together, Democrats and Republicans, Independents and Libertarians, the Green Party and the Tea Party, to care for both the Dreaming child and the unborn; for the addict and the inmate; for the alien on our shores and the native-born forgotten man and woman. We can do it all, but it will require us all."

In his speech, Trump said there has never been a better time to "start living the American dream." But, he said, it cannot be an individual effort.

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"If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything," Trump said. "You can be anything and, together, we can achieve to talk about what kind of future we are going to have and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people and one American family. We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny and the same great American flag. Together, we are rediscovering the American Way."

Pastor Jentezen Franklin, senior pastor of Free Chapel in Gainesville, Georgia, says he was encouraged to hear President Trump suggest that Americans put their differences aside, to "summon unity" and show respect for each other.

"If we are indeed to be unified, we must be at peace with our neighbors, regardless of one's background or skin color," Franklin says. "I remain hopeful that we can accomplish this. It's not only the responsibility of our leaders to foster this change, it is each of our duties as citizens—each and every one of us created in the image of God."

Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, says there was something in Trump's speech that every American could celebrate.

"It laid down an optimistic vision for a better America, one we can reach if we lay down our differences and work together," Floyd says. "In fact, this State of the Union called us to be exactly that—a union. ... We are only as strong as we are united, and nowhere are we more united than when we acknowledge we are one nation under God."

Trump also expressed his desire for Americans to embrace the national motto of "In God We Trust" and its true meaning.

"It was also encouraging to hear a political leader affirm that faith and family represent the foundation of this country, not government and bureaucracy," Franklin adds.

Shawn A. Akers is a content development editor for Charisma Media.

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