(FiveNation.com)- President Donald Trump recently honor St. Thomas Becket, a Roman Catholic martyr. He declared December 29 the anniversary of Becket, which honors the English bishop from the 12th century as “a lion of religious liberty.”
In a proclamation Trump issued on Monday, Trump said:
“Thomas Becket’s death serves as a powerful and timeless reminder to every American that our freedom from religious persecution is not a mere luxury or accident of history, but rather an essential element of our liberty. It is our priceless treasure and inheritance. And it was bought with the blood of martyrs.”
After Becket refused to acknowledged that England’s King Henry II was his supreme ruler, Becket was murdered by the king’s knights in his church.
Trump’s proclamation continued:
“His last words on this earth were these. ‘For the name of Jesus and the protection of the Church, I am ready to embrace death.’ Dressed in holy robes, Thomas was cut down where he stood inside the walls of his own church.”
The proclamation honors Becket as the precursor to “numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the state over the Church across the West.” Trump specifically refers to the Magna Carta, which said “[T]he English church shall be free, and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired.”
Trump’s proclamation continued:
“It is because of great men like Thomas Becket that the first American President George Washington could proclaim more than 600 years later that, in the United States, ‘All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship’ and that ‘it is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.'”
Trump’s proclamation honoring Becket come at a time when religious institutions have been pitted against public institutions a lot during the coronavirus pandemic. Many religious institutions have fought back against local state government’s restrictions on gathering. Some have even take their arguments to court, saying they have been treated unfairly compared to businesses.
Some of these religious institutions have won victories in the Supreme Court over the last two months. Most notably, the Roman Catholic Diocese in Brooklyn as well as Orthodox Jewish groups and synagogues won a victory against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s coronavirus-related restrictions.
In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser amended her restrictions on religious institutions following complaints by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington. The city had a limit of 50 people on religious services. She then changed that cap, limiting gatherings instead to 25% capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people.
Before the change in rules, the Archbishop requested an injunction that would allow “sufficient time before Christmas Eve to allow the Archdiocese to plan and celebrate Mass with percentage-based limits rather than a 50-person cap.”
The lawsuit read:
“Under both the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the District’s arbitrary, unscientific and discriminatory treatment of religious worship is illegal.”