NTD | Jan Jekielek | Aug 31, 2020
The Chinese Communist Party touts itself as a global leader. And it is a leader. It’s leading the world in persecution, says Sam Brownback, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.
From forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners to forced sterilization of Uyghurs, the Chinese regime, in Ambassador Brownback’s words, has waged “War with Faith.” And it’s exporting its repressive model abroad, to the detriment of freedoms across the globe. But authoritarianism ultimately can’t defeat faith, Brownback says, in China or anywhere.
This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Ambassador Sam Brownback, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.
Ambassador Sam Brownback: Happy to join you. I wish it was an in-person interview, but this will have to do.
Mr. Jekielek: You had an article that you wrote recently which was, “Humanity Will Win The Battle For Religious Freedom.” Frankly, a lot of people, not just in the U.S. but in Canada, my home country, and elsewhere, are not so sure about this right now, especially in China which we’ll talk about. Tell me what you’re thinking here.
Amb. Brownback: It is in the innate nature of the human being to have dignified freedom. I just don’t think any government over an extended period of time can win this fight of tying people down from their freedom. Now, if that weren’t in the nature of the human species, if that weren’t in our soul, in our heart, you can look at these times right now and say, “We’re just headed downhill.” But it’s within us, it’s within our creative DNA that we want freedom.
We want to be free, and there is just no government that over an extended period of time can suppress that. What we’ve seen taking place recently, certainly within the last couple of decades, is really governments confining these human rights and human dignity, particularly on religious freedom. But I think you’re starting to see that breaking out now, too. I think you’re seeing changes happening really even before our very eyes that are opening up religious freedom around the world.
Mr. Jekielek: I also wanted to ask you: you were actually instrumental, I think, just over 20 years ago in some pretty landmark legislation related to international religious freedom, and you’ve been following that up all along. Where does this passion for freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, for you, come from?
Amb. Brownback: In my own personal search, my faith is incredibly important to me. And then early on, when I was in the U.S. Senate, I had a staff member that had worked in this field and started to tell me about people that were imprisoned around the world simply because they wanted to practice a different faith than the dominant beliefs in that country, and it just rubbed against me.
And that may be [because of] my background in Kansas. My mother grew up on the property where John Brown would stay when he was [part of] Bleeding Kansas and we had the slavery situation, and so anything that smacks of slavery to me, it just rubs against me. And I carried the original human trafficking bill. Don Nickles carried the original religious freedom bill, but I was a main supporter of it, and these have always been a deeply passionate piece of mine.
I love the days whenever we get somebody out of prison somewhere around the world, that’s in prison simply because they want to practice their faith, and we can help get them out and get them free. Those are just great happy days.