President Donald J. Trump will forever be “the first President of the United States to host a meeting at the United Nations on religious freedom.”
Not only that, President Trump brought down the house with a message full of truth and hope.
“America will always be a voice for victims of religious persecution everywhere,” he said to the applause of the attendees, “No matter where you go, you have a place in the United States of America.”
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.
Those inalienable rights that government can’t take away because it does not grant them are the foundation of religious freedom. Those are the sort of human rights on which the United Nations (UN) is supposed to focus, but that have been so blatantly neglected. The president highlighted the problem, “Regrettably, the religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world. Approximately 80 percent of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted, or even banned.”
The president expressed disbelief when he first heard the 80 percent statistic, as most people would. But it is correct. Two hundred and fifty million Christians around the world are experiencing persecution today. We’ve all witnessed a surprising rise in anti-Semitism in recent years. The president spoke of appointing “a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism.”
He expressed his commitment to protect people of all religious faiths, “These evil attacks are a wound on all humanity. We must all work together to protect communities of every faith.”
And that is the most impressive thing about the Trump presidency. More than the inspiring speech, the president has put action behind every word he’s said on this topic. He highlighted some of the things his administration has done:
In this year’s ministerial [a first-of-its-kind religious freedom meeting also created under President Trump], Secretary Pompeo announced plans to create the International Religious Freedom Alliance — an alliance of likeminded nations devoted to confronting religious persecution all around the world …
We’re also urging every nation to increase the prosecution and punishment of crimes against religious communities …
The United States is forming a coalition of U.S. businesses for the protection of religious freedom. This is the first time this has been done. This initiative will encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.
This last coalition he mentions is yet another ground-breaking effort that comes at a crucial moment in our history. President Trump shows he understands what is at stake. He said, “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.”
The president’s leadership on this issue at home is praiseworthy. And his call to the rest of the world was no less inspiring:
Today, with one clear voice, the United States of America 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, 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.
When the president speaks in this manner, he truly speaks for all Americans. Religious freedom has always been a unifying force in our land, and we pray that it may spread around the world.