President Donald Trump officially noted the 850th anniversary of the death of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket and called for an end to “religious persecution worldwide.”
Becket was killed in 1170 in Canterbury Cathedral by knights loyal to King Henry II, according to Fox News.
“Today is the 850th anniversary of the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket on December 29, 1170,” Trump said in a proclamation. “Thomas Becket was a statesman, a scholar, a chancellor, a priest, an archbishop, and a lion of religious liberty.
“Before the Magna Carta was drafted, before the right to free exercise of religion was enshrined as America’s first freedom in our glorious Constitution, Thomas gave his life so that, as he said, “the Church will attain liberty and peace.”
The president said Becket’s death “changed the course of history.”
“It eventually brought about numerous constitutional limitations on the power of the state over the Church across the West,” 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.
“On this day, we celebrate and revere Thomas Becket’s courageous stand for religious liberty and we reaffirm our call to end religious persecution worldwide.
“A society without religion cannot prosper. A nation without faith cannot endure — because justice, goodness, and peace cannot prevail without the grace of God.”