Skip to content

Trump administration officials promise action for global religious liberty

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

By (CNA/EWTN)
6/26/2019 (2 weeks ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

With the latest U.S. report on global persecution of individuals and groups based on their religious beliefs, the Trump administration promised action to counter the human rights violations of the countries and groups listed in the U.S. State Department's 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom.

Highlights

By (CNA/EWTN)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
6/26/2019 (2 weeks ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Trump administration, officials, religious liberty


Washington D.C., (CNA) - "As in previous years, our report exposes a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes, violent extremist groups, and individual citizens. For all those that run roughshod over religious freedom, I'll say this: The United States is watching and you will be held to account," said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Pompeo released the report at a June 21 briefing with U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback.

The Secretary of State summarized the situation in the worst countries: "People are persecuted " handcuffed, thrown in jail, even killed " for their decision to believe, or not to believe. For worshipping according to their conscience. For teaching their children about their faith. For speaking about their beliefs in public. For gathering in private, as so many of us have done, to study the Bible, the Torah, or the Qu'ran," he said.

"Go into any mosque, any church, any temple in America, and you'll hear the same thing: Americans believe that kind of intolerance is deeply wrong," said Pompeo, who said it is "a distinctly American responsibility to stand up for faith in every nation's public square."

The State Department has 90 days to designate "countries of particular concern" and to choose which countries to put on a special watch list. It can also designate non-state actors as "entities of particular concern." The designations can have significant legal consequences

Pompeo cited the "good news" that Uzbekistan is no longer listed as a country of particular concern, for the first time in 13 years. Though the secretary said "much work remains," the country has created a "religious freedom roadmap." It has released about 1,500 religious prisoners and ended a blacklist that banned about 16,000 people from travel due to their religious affiliations.

Pompeo said the State Department looks forward to legal reforms on registration requirements so that more religious groups may worship freely and so that children may pray at mosques with their parents.

He credited President Donald Trump for leading a government-wide effort to secure the release of U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey, saying he had been wrongly imprisoned for his faith.

The briefing also turned critical.

While Pakistan's Supreme Court acquitted the Catholic woman Asia Bibi of blasphemy and spared her from execution after almost a decade in prison, over 40 people are serving a life sentence or face execution for the same charge. Pompeo called for these captives' release and for the government to appoint an envoy to address various religious freedom concerns.

Pompeo opposed what he said was Iran's "crackdown" on Baha'is, Christians and others.

Brownback expanded on this, saying Iranian religious minorities, including Baha'is, Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, and Sunni and Sufi Muslims, "face discrimination, harassment, and unjust imprisonment because of their beliefs."

"Their religious books are banned. They are denied access to education. Their cemeteries are desecrated. Blasphemy and proselytization of Muslims is punishable by death," he said.

Pompeo criticized Russia's categorization of Jehovah's Witnesses as "terrorists," the confiscation of their property, and the threats to their families. He spoke against the Burmese military's violence against Rohingya Muslims, saying hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to flee or to live in overcrowded refugee camps.

China also drew criticism from Pompeo, who said, "The Chinese Communist Party has exhibited extreme hostility to all religious faiths since its founding. The party demands that it alone be called God."

Brownback added: "China has declared war on faith. We've seen increasing Chinese Government abuse of believers of nearly all faiths and from all parts of the mainland."

"They've increased their repression of Christians, shutting down churches and arresting adherents for their peaceful religious practices," said Brownback, predicting this will affect China's standing domestically and around the world.

China's government has made "intense persecution" normal for many religious believers, including Falun Gong practitioners, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists, Pompeo said.

The State Department added a special section to its report on China to discuss the country's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang autonomous region.

Brownback went into more detail on problems in other countries. He objected to Eritrean authorities' continued house arrest of Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch Antonios, detained since 2006, and the detention of hundreds of other "prisoners of conscience." The Turkish government continues to keep closed the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople's Theological School of Halki, he said.

According to Brownback, religious leaders in Nicaragua report "constant surveillance, intimidation and threats."

"The national police assault priests in full daylight, revealing the government's contempt for any religious leaders they view as a threat to their authority," he said.

In Brownback's view, the Trump administration has made religious freedom a top priority and fought "for people of all faiths."

"We will not stop until we see the iron curtain of religious persecution come down; until governments no longer detain and torture people for simply being of a particular faith or associated with it; until people are no longer charged and prosecuted on specious charges of blasphemy; until the world no longer believes it can get away with persecuting anyone of any faith without consequences," he said. "We will not stop."

Pompeo noted the upcoming second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, to be held in mid-July, expected to draw up to 1,000 people.

He said the first ministerial was "truly a stunning show of unity " people of all faiths standing up for the most basic of all human rights." It inspired follow-up conferences in the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan.

The State Department's International Religious Freedom Fund, launched to support victims of persecution and to "give groups the tools to respond," has received millions of dollars, he reported.

Pompeo said the State Department is elevating its Office of International Religious Freedom and its Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, effective immediately. These offices will now report directly to the undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights.

Tony Perkins, chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, welcomed the report. He said the State Department should not use pre-existing sanctions or indefinite wavers because these "provide little or no incentive for governments of CPC-designated countries to reduce or halt egregious religious freedom violations."

The commission was established by Congress to monitor and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. It makes policy recommendations to the President, to the Secretary of State and to Congress. It released its own report in April.

The U.S. itself has been a focus of concerns for religious freedom. While freedom of religion is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions, anti-discrimination laws and policies have forced Catholic adoption agencies to close, while Christians in the wedding industry face pressure to serve same-sex wedding ceremonies or face lawsuits.

The House of Representatives recently passed the Equality Act, which would strip religious freedom protections against many discrimination lawsuits.

The Little Sisters of the Poor continue a legal fight to secure their protections from mandatory health care coverage of drugs and procedures barred by Catholic ethics.

The Trump administration's ban against travelers from several predominantly Muslim countries, characterized during his campaign as a "Muslim ban," was among other actions that prompted strong concern. It was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision.


Comments


More U.S.

Bishops denounce new asylum policy at U.S.-Mexico border Watch

Image of Trump initiates new asylum policies.

The president of U.S. bishops' conference issued a statement on Tuesday condemning a newly-announced rule on asylum eligibility at the ... continue reading


Orange diocese to dedicate Christ Cathedral Watch

Image of Kate Veik - CNA

The Diocese of Orange will dedicate its Christ Cathedral July 17 after a seven-year, $77-million renovation process. Orange, Calif. (CNA) - ... continue reading



San Francisco auxiliary bishop, seminary rector, dies age 70 Watch

Image of

Bishop Robert Christian, O.P., an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and rector of St. Patrick Seminary in Menlo Park, ... continue reading


For pregnant women facing poverty, pro-life groups offer resources for success Watch

Image of

Poor women are the most likely population to obtain an abortion New York City, N.Y., (CNA) - While it may seem logical that a woman who is ... continue reading


Conn. bishops call for 'complete overhaul' of immigration policies Watch

Image of

The bishops of Connecticut have joined a number of bishops' voices in calling for "a complete overhaul of existing immigration policies" in ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Information
Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Services
Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on catholic.org

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Education
Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Socials
Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.