By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
September 26, 2019
On Monday, President Trump, the first U.S. president to host a meeting at the United Nations on religious freedom, called on the countries of the world to end persecution against people of faith.
“To stop the crimes against people of faith, release prisoners of conscience, repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief, protect the vulnerable, the defenseless, 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,” Trump said.
He said he was shocked to learn that approximately 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted or banned.
“People of faith are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured, and even murdered, often at the hands of their own government, simply for expressing their deeply held religious beliefs,” Trump said, attributing further abuse to terrorist and criminals, who have attacked synagogues, mosques and churches.
“These evil attacks are a wound on all humanity,” the president told the U.N. audience. “We must all work together to protect communities of every faith. We’re also urging every nation to increase the prosecution and punishment of crimes against religious communities.”
He pledged an additional $25 million in federal funding to help protect religious freedom, religious sites and relics.
View President Trump’s Full Speech on Religious Freedom here
Also during his speech, Trump recognized Pastor Andrew Brunson, the Black Mountain, N.C. native who was imprisoned in Turkey for two years and released last October, thanks in part to White House negotiations with President Erdoğan. And he praised the work of another North Carolinian, Samaritan’s Purse leader Franklin Graham, who Trump said always beats him to disaster areas to offer relief efforts. Both Graham and Brunson were in the audience of more than 100 government leaders.
Frank Gaffney, CEO of Save the Persecuted Christians, told the Christian Broadcasting Network that the Trump administration’s support for the persecuted goes beyond words.
“I believe that the President’s efforts on behalf of Pastor Brunson made clear that he used the instruments of American power,” said Gaffney. “The most important message, he very much did deliver on the fact by his presence at this event. He put the nations of the world on notice.”
Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said he appreciated the president’s “speaking and leading in this global effort.”
“This is especially important in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs, and the growing number of attacks on and destruction of houses of worship,” he said.
William Inboden, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin who worked for the George W. Bush administration, praised Trump’s multilateral approach on the issue.
“In terms of religious freedom, Trump has been the most prominent American champion since Ronald Reagan,” he told the media.
In a Wall Street Journal editorial on the speech, Kelsey Zorzi, president of the U.N.’s NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, said Trump’s call to action was the culmination of a series of advances on international religious freedom over the past two years. In July the State Department hosted the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington, and the president announced that the United States is forming a coalition of businesses for the protection of religious freedom.
“This initiative will encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace,” he said, adding that, “too often, people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning, or censoring the faithful. True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”
As he closed his speech, President Trump asked nations to join the U.S. in what he called this “urgent moral duty.”
“We ask the governments of the world to honor the eternal right of every person to follow their conscience, live by their faith, and give glory to God,” he said. “The United States has a vital role in this critical mission.”