Pres. Trump says nation will return to saying ‘Merry Christmas’

President Donald Trump assured a high-profile gathering of Christian conservatives on Friday that his administration will defend religious organizations. He’s promising a return to traditional American values while again subtly stoking the fire he helped ignite over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.

Trump is the first sitting president to address the Values Voter Summit. He pledged Friday to turn back the clock in what he described as a nation that has drifted away from its religious roots.

He bemoaned the use of the phrase “Happy Holidays” as a secular seasonal greeting and vowed to return “Merry Christmas” to the national discourse.

“You know, we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct. You go department stores, and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year’ or they’ll say other things, and it’ll be red, they’ll have it painted, but they don’t say. Well, guess what?  We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump said.

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

Trump told the annual Values Voter summit he’s followed through on promise after promise since taking office.

Trump mentioned his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He says Gorsuch is in the mold of Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative whose death in February 2016 created the vacancy on the high court that Trump was able to fill.

Trump also said he’s “stopping cold” attacks on Judeo-Christian values.