Barr, DeVos speak at religious broadcasters forum

Travis Loller
Associated Press

Nashville, Tenn. – U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos found an enthusiastic audience for her education policies at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Tennessee on Wednesday.

DeVos spoke about her belief that religious schools and colleges should be able to receive government support on an equal footing with public and other non-religious institutions. To that end, she recently proposed a federal tax credit that would help fund scholarships for private K-12 schools. Many public school advocates oppose the plan.

“We know that every child is special and unique. They learn differently. There are different things that interest them, that excite them. And yet too many kids today are forced to be in schools that aren’t the right fit and aren’t working for them,” DeVos said.

In this Feb. 10, 2020, file photo, Attorney General William Barr speaks at the National Sheriffs' Association Winter Legislative and Technology Conference in Washington. Barr will be a featured speaker Wednesday, Feb. 26, at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Tennessee. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Jay Sekulow, one of the attorneys defending President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial, are also on the schedule.

An audience of several hundred gave DeVos a standing ovation as she entered and exited the auditorium. They also cheered her assertion that too many children are not being allowed to express their religious faith in school.

Asked how her religious faith influences her work, DeVos said, “It basically is foundational to everything that I do. It does inform all my days, all of my decisions.”

Attorney General William Barr was scheduled to speak later Wednesday. His afternoon presentation is part of a forum that will explore how the First Amendment should handle “divergent, and sometimes clashing, religious faiths,” according to the convention schedule.

Jay Sekulow, one of the attorneys who defended President Donald Trump during his impeachment trial, was scheduled to be on a panel with DeVos, but he was unable to attend due to illness.

National Religious Broadcasters, or NRB, describes itself as an international association of Christian communicators. Members subscribe to a conservative statement of faith that includes a belief in the infallibility of the Bible, a belief that marriage is between one man and one woman and a belief that men and women have “distinct roles.”

The convention at a Nashville hotel runs through Friday.