Enter Stage Right | Robert Owens | July 6, 2020
US President Donald Trump addressed a United Nations event on Religious Freedom. In his speech he boldly spoke up for religious freedom and against religious persecution saying, “The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God. This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.
The religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world. Approximately 80% of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is restricted, or even banned. The United States calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution. To stop the crimes against people of faith, release prisoners of conscience, repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief, protect the vulnerable, and the oppressed, America stands with believers in every country who ask only for the freedom to live according to the faith that is within their own hearts.”
Taking aim at a tragic truth ignored by the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream Media President Trump continued, “It is estimated that 11 Christians are killed every day for following the teachings of Christ. The USA is forming a coalition of businesses for the protection of religious freedom which will encourage the private sector to protect people of faith in the workplace. Too often, people in power preach diversity while censoring the faithful. True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs. The United States of America will forever remain at the side of all who seek religious freedom and I ask all nations to join us in this urgent moral duty to allow every person to follow their conscience, live by their faith, and give glory to God.”
Summing up his position and the policies of his administration the President boldly said, “We’re standing up for almost 250 million Christians around the world who are persecuted for their faith.”
And President Trump has put his actions behind his words. Back in 2017 While commemorating the National Day of Prayer, President Trump signed an executive order that he said will “Defend freedom of religion and speech in America.” While addressing the gathering of American religious leaders the President also said, “The Founding Fathers believed religious liberty was so fundamental they enshrined it in the first amendment in the constitution, yet for too long the Federal government has used the power of the state as a weapon against people of faith bullying and even punishing Americans for following their religious beliefs. No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the government and their faith.” Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God.”
The order, based on one of Mr. Trump’s campaign promises, provided regulatory relief from Obamacare requirements such as the requirement that organizations provide contraception care. A requirement that many religious organizations felt was forcing them to violate their beliefs.
Taking a swipe at the Johnson Amendment to the IRS Code, which prohibits political speech in churches, the President also directed the Department of Justice to develop new rules designed to establish religious protections for all Americans saying, “Under my administration, free speech does not end at the steps of a cathedral or synagogue, we are giving our churches their voices back, with this order, we will also make clear that the federal government will never penalize any person for their protected religious beliefs.”
And this work to give legs to his promises continues into the present time, on Tuesday June 2, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order on international religious freedom. The order reads, “Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative. Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom.” The executive order also allocates an annual amount of $50 million for advancing international religious freedom by deterring attacks on sects and enhancing security at houses of worship.
That order is aimed at bolstering global incentive programs and restricting the issuance of visas under the 2012 Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act, which targets perpetrators of human rights abuse and corruption.
This is all part of a coordinated campaign to bring attention to the war against faith being waged by the forces of evil around the world. Following Trump’s lead, the State Department has brought a new focus on religious freedom. The Executive Order states, “The Secretary shall require all Department of State civil service employees in the Foreign Affairs Series to undertake training modeled on the international religious freedom training described by the Foreign Service Act and amended in 2016.” Also, President Trump has hosted victims of religious persecution striving to bring this ongoing attack against faith the visibility it deserves.
Drawing a line in the sand President Trump does not equivocate when he stakes out his position with regard to religious freedom, “Each of us has the right to follow the dictates of our conscience and the demands of our religious conviction.”
On the world stage President Trump, while hosting the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom event, called for:
- The international community and business leaders to work to protect religious freedom.
- All nations to act to bring an end to religious persecution and stop crimes against people of faith.
Taking the lead, the United States under the Trump Administration:
- The State Department has hosted two Religious Freedom Ministerials, during which more than 100 governments and religious leaders committed to fight religious persecution.
- The Administration is spearheading the International Religious Freedom Alliance, an alliance of nations dedicated to confronting religious persecution around the world.
- The Administration has taken steps to protect victims of all faiths from religious violence.
- The Administration will dedicate an additional $25 million to protect religious freedom and religious sites and relics.
- The Department of Justice hosted its Summit on Combating Anti-Semitism in July.
- The United States has provided humanitarian aid to help Christians and Yazidis who suffered at the hands of ISIS and to help Rohingya Muslim refugees fleeing persecution.