Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending, along with my daughter, Cissie Graham Lynch, an unprecedented event at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
President Donald Trump became the first American president ever to convene a meeting at the U.N. to discuss the priority of worldwide religious freedom. Speaking before world leaders gathered at the General Assembly’s annual session, President Trump delivered a challenging address: “A Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom.”
Joined by Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador Kelly Craft, the president declared: “No right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.
“Regrettably, 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 threatened, restricted or even banned. … People of faith are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured and even murdered, often at the hands of their own government.”
I greatly appreciated the president’s boldness in leading the way to protect religious freedom. He made it crystal clear to the nations gathered that everyone has a fundamental right to the free exercise of their faith, without harassment or persecution.
This administration has been a staunch ally of religious liberty. On the home front, President Trump has signed executive orders protecting religious freedoms, “giving our churches their voices back.” In July, Secretary of State Pompeo hosted the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, where he announced plans to form the International Religious Freedom Alliance that will combat religious persecution around the world. The Ministerial was attended by more than 100 foreign delegations.
This came just a few days before the news broke about a whistleblower complaint regarding a call between President Trump and the new Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky.
The complaint set off a firestorm of criticism from the media and sparked an impeachment inquiry from the U.S. House of Representatives, led by the speaker of the House, Democrat Nancy Pelosi.
I’ve never witnessed such intense hatred and vitriol toward a sitting president. The acrimony between the Democratic and Republican parties has plunged to new depths. The drive to impeach the president is tearing our country apart.
Rather than coming together and focusing on the persistent problems plaguing our nation—including immigration and national security—the zeal to remove the president is consuming every moment of Congress, throwing us into political chaos and undermining the authority of our elected leaders.
I don’t know all the details of the allegations against the president, and I trust that any further proceedings will reveal the facts of the matter.
What I do know is that the Bible commands us to pray for our leaders—our president, our Congress and those in positions of leadership in our government. “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).
There are spiritual forces of wickedness and darkness at work in our nation. They work to deceive and destroy in any capacity they can, whether in the life of an individual, a community or a country.
Describing the fall of Satan from Heaven, the Apostle John wrote: “And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). When the devil is thrown into the pit for a thousand years after Christ’s glorious Second Coming, the Bible says the angel of the Lord “threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer” (Revelation 20:3).
Until that time, the most effective and powerful thing we can do is pray. “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16, NIV). The Apostle Paul tells us to put on the armor of God: “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:16-18).
Pray for our president, for wisdom and guidance in the days to come. Pray for both parties, that they will put aside their animosity and partisan politics for the sake of the unity of our great nation. Pray that the hostility will cease, and that peacemakers from both sides of the aisle will provide the courageous leadership so desperately needed.
When Benjamin Franklin emerged from the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia after helping forge the U.S. Constitution, he was asked what sort of government the delegates had created. His reply was, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Our nation was born in a quest for religious liberty and founded on Christian moral and spiritual principles.
John Adams, an original signer of the Declaration of Independence and our second president, wrote a profound letter to the Massachusetts Militia in the fall of 1798, saying: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
We should never take for granted our freedom to pray. It’s not too late to ask the Lord to bring revival to America and transform the hearts of those who seek to undermine the values our nation was founded upon. Pray that we as Christians make our voices heard by voting faithfully and wisely in the upcoming elections.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. The Scripture verse marked NIV is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.
Photo: Thomas J. Petrino/2019 BGEA