This morning, President Donald Trump asserted the United States’ commitment to religious liberty worldwide in a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Joined on stage by Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the President declared that his administration would dedicate $25 million to “protect religious freedom, religious sites and relics.” He also announced that the U.S. will be “forming a coalition of U.S. businesses for the protection of religious freedom.”
“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government, they come from God,” said Trump. “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.”
While Americans are free to practice their faith, religious freedom is not a universal privilege, Trump reminded the audience. In fact, approximately 80% of the world’s population lives in religiously restrictive environments, according to the Pew Research Center.
“… with one clear voice, the United States of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution. Stop the crimes against people of faith,” Trump urged. “Release prisoners of conscience. Repeal laws restricting freedom of religion and belief. Protect the vulnerable, the defenseless and the oppressed.”
“Today President Donald J. Trump was the first U.S. President to convene a meeting on religious freedom at the United Nations,” posted Franklin Graham on Facebook. “My daughter Cissie Graham Lynch and I were privileged to be there for this event and I am so grateful to the President and to Vice President Mike Pence for their work on this important issue on behalf of Christians and all people of faith both here in our country and around the world.”
“The President is working to broaden international support for ongoing efforts to protect religious freedom in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs and a growing number of attacks on destruction of houses of worship by state and non-state actors,” said White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham.
President Trump made it clear that religious liberty is one of his administration’s “highest priorities.”
“… The President is using the full weight of the United States to force the issue of religious freedom on the agendas of the world leaders of the United Nations,” said Johnnie Moore, a commissioner on the U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom. “It is not a secondary issue to the United States. It is an organizing principle for the United States and ought to be for all global leaders.”
Mike Berry, Chief of Staff for First Liberty Institute, commended President Trump’s ongoing efforts to defend religious liberty across the globe: “Our founders understood that no nation can survive long without freedom of conscience and vigorous free exercise of faith. If America is to be a city on a hill, our commitment to religious liberty must continue to serve as a model to the rest of the world.”