A Tallahassee preacher anointed Gov. Ron DeSantis as “the most pro-Israel governor in the United States” during observances at the state Capitol Thursday of the National Day of Prayer.
Pam Olsen, co-founder of Tallahassee’s Hilltop House of Prayer, led a prayer for the DeSantis family in which she remarked on the fact that the governor and Cabinet will be traveling next month to hold the Florida Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“This is powerful,” she said. “Lord God, we thank you that he is the most pro-Israel governor in the United States.”
Olsen also praised DeSantis’ appointment of three conservative Florida Supreme Court justices as “an answer to prayer, because people all across our state had been praying for that. That is huge, because it matters who’s over at the Supreme Court.”
Olsen said the National Day of Prayer was ecumenical but that the Tallahassee observance centered on the “Judeo-Christian” tradition.
DeSantis took the opportunity to expound on his views of religion in America:
“The biggest part of the revolution in our country was the idea that our rights are God-given – not given by government. That we have natural inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Really, from the beginning of our country to the present, all the great triumphs in American history have really recognized that principle,” the governor said.
“So when we’re talking about prayer,” DeSantis said, “whether you’re doing it at the start of a legislative session, whether when you take an oath of office you’re saying, ‘So help me God,’ you’re doing that with the recognition that, ultimately, what we’re doing here on Earth is hopefully doing God’s will. Because without him, we would not have the freedom that we really cherish.”
Meanwhile, the governor said that 75 people would join him and members of the Florida Cabinet when they fly to Israel later this month to hold the state’s regular Cabinet meeting.
DeSantis, who vowed to undertake an Israel journey during last year’s campaign, said it would be “the biggest ever foreign trip from Florida state government to the state of Israel.”
The trip, scheduled for May 25-31, will include trade talks and formal Cabinet business –apparently featuring a live video link to Tallahassee, so that Floridians who can’t make the 6,000-plus mile trip can participate.
The 75 people going on the Israel trip are “are pertinent to the mission, which is to tap into science resources, environment, STEM, technology,” said Helen Ferré, communications chief to the governor.
She said she didn’t have a list of names for the traveling party yet.
During the Israel trade mission, DeSantis said, “we’re going to have people who have never been there – a lot of the folks have never been there. I think it’s going to be a great experience.”
Also attending the prayer ceremony on the Capitol’s 22nd floor Thursday were Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
DeSantis took credit for Israeli airline El Al’s inauguration of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Orlando. He also noted that El Al already flies direct flights to and from Miami. El Al announced the Orlando expansion in February, shortly after DeSantis assumed office.
“I asked early on, ‘Can we get some flights into Central Florida – and go to theme parks, whatever.’ So El Al said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do that,’” DeSantis said. “That’ll allow Israelis to come. It’ll allow people from Florida … to have a direct flight” to Israel.
“There’s a lot of different theme parks” in Central Florida, including the Holy Land Experience, the governor noted, “but, having been to Israel and actually stood in the City of David, been walking along the path that Abraham walked, seeing the different scenes for Jesus when he was alive and then ultimately crucified, and seeing the site of the tomb – all these things come alive. It will change your life forever.”
In a time when believers are being attacked in houses of worship – whether churches, mosques, or synagogues – “that kind of hate and violence just has no place in our society here,” DeSantis said.