In remarks at the opening session here of the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) International Christian Media Convention on Monday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to continue taking on woke agendas, make pro-family decisions and support Americans’ right to practice their faith.
DeSantis, believed to be throwing his hat in the ring as a presidential candidate in 2024, spoke through strong applause at the Orlando World Center Marriott in Orlando as he outlined his views on protecting faith and family.
DeSantis began by telling a personal story about the personal importance of a bottle of holy water from the Sea of Galilee as attendees gather for a four-day convention with a theme of celebrating 75 years of Israel’s independence.
"My first job as governor, after getting sworn in on the steps of the Capitol, was to go back to the governor's residence … to get our son Mason baptized," he said.
He and his wife, Casey DeSantis, had been in Israel "many years before that together," he said, "and my wife brought back that fresh water from the Sea of Galilee."
The bottle was later apparently tossed out during house cleaning, he said.
As word got out to people the family knew in Israel about the lost holy water, "within 24 hours there were people in Israel digging into the Sea of Galilee, and they sent me this beautiful glass jar filled with water from the Sea of Galilee," he said.
DeSantis also spoke of the societal problem of kids growing up without a father — and of what fathers mean in the home.
"We're working with groups that are addressing the needs of the father and trying to get them engaged with their kids," DeSantis said of his state's pro-family initiatives.
"Even if you have the kids that are born of a father in prison, we are using these resources to foster mentorship opportunities for kids that do not have that [type of support]," he said.
"And if you look at when kids do well … it’s when somebody is willing to take an interest in them," he said. "If you have somebody in the community that takes an interest, that child can be so much better in the future."
DeSantis also said that children "need to understand the foundations of our country. They need to understand our Constitution and our Bill of Rights and understand what it means to be an American."
The governor also said that he and his administration are "holding these Wall Street banks accountable" and "fighting back against the weaponization of government."
He said, "We have a government targeting parents going to school board meetings. They will target pro-life activists."
He added, "They will allow municipal workers to protest illegally in front of our Supreme Court justices’ homes."
He went on, "And they are now in the FBI saying observant Catholics represent some type of threat in society."
DeSantis also said, "Make no mistake, weaponized government is one faction of society turning the reins of power against those people they don't like. And the people that are in power now do not like people of faith."
DeSantis also noted that when he is flying out of Washington, D.C., passengers’ attention often is directed to one side of the plane, where the monuments in the nation's capital can be seen.
He said the view is actually better from the other side of the plane.
"The best view is not our monuments, but Arlington National Cemetery," he said — noting the final resting place of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Toward the close of his remarks, DeSantis said, "Put on the full armor of God … and don’t ever, ever back down."