President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in using his new Easter vacation to make a religious appeal, and some observers have wondered if he will be the one to make it official.
But as Trump’s schedule has become less and less predictable, and his staff and political appointees have made more and more overtures to religion in recent weeks, questions about whether he’ll be able to make the trip have grown more urgent.
Trump and his team have been pushing for religious observance in his public appearances, from taking the oath of office in February to inviting a religious group to deliver an Easter message in his inaugural address.
On Monday, the president told the Christian Broadcasting Network that he has “great respect” for religious leaders.
“The reason I don’t do it is because I believe in that,” he said.
“I do believe in the religious liberty.
And the freedom to believe in all of the things I do.”
In fact, Trump’s official position on religious freedom is a far cry from his own, in which he described religious freedom as a “fundamental right” under the First Amendment.
The president has also expressed his support for “freedom of speech” in the past, calling for religious groups to be allowed to speak on their behalf.
He has also taken some strong language against the LGBT community.
In his first official address to Congress in January, he warned that people who “tolerate violence, hate and bigotry are not welcome in America” and said that “there will be consequences” for people who engage in “hate and bigotry.”
While Trump has made a number of statements and actions in support of religious liberty, he has been largely silent on religious observances, a position that has been criticized by other Trump administration officials.
For example, the National Religious Broadcasters have asked Trump to make an Easter visit to their conference, but Trump has so far refused.
“There are some important issues that the president needs to address,” said Tom Wright, president of the American Family Association, a conservative Christian advocacy group.
“But he has not made a clear statement on religious liberty.”
Wright noted that some of the issues that Trump has taken a clear position on include the Iran nuclear deal, the use of military force in Syria and Iraq, and the removal of restrictions on Muslim immigration into the United States.
“He’s not talking about all of these things,” Wright said.
“The president has talked about the importance of religious freedom in a lot of his speeches, and it’s a real concern for me,” Wright continued.
“It seems like he’s not doing enough on that front.”
Trump’s Easter trip will not be his first time to visit religious leaders, and there have been some signs that he’s trying to make up for lost time.
In March, Trump visited the Vatican for an interfaith prayer service and meeting with a Catholic priest.
But he also held his own event with religious leaders in June, when he held a “Spiritual Heritage Tour” in Philadelphia.
In the weeks leading up to the Easter holiday, Trump has been making a number a appearances at Catholic-affiliated events, including a private reception for Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who served as the Vatican’s archbishop from 2012 to 2016.
In late June, Trump attended a prayer service at the Vatican, and in July he held an Easter service at St. Peter’s Basilica.
In all of his appearances with religious groups, Trump also made a point of making an Easter greeting to the church.
In late July, for example, Trump hosted the first-ever Catholic bishops’ conference in the United Kingdom, which was attended by about 1,000 clergy and other officials.
In response to a question about whether Trump would be attending the event, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters that “he’s in Europe.”