Here We Go: President Trump Allows State Department to Keep Randy Berry, Obama-Appointed Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons; Tony Perkins says Administration Should ‘Focus on Battling Christian Persecution and Genocide Rather than Promoting Homosexual Rights’

Randy Berry, the first U.S. special envoy for the rights of LGBTI persons, is shown at a gay pride rally in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in June 2015. Berry says the U.S. is supporting activists worldwide but recognizes the risks they face in many countries. Photo courtesy U.S. State Department

Orthodox Christian Rod Dreher says, “Conservative Christians are going to wake up and realize that they’ve been played for chumps.”

President for less than a month, Donald Trump has come through for the overwhelming numbers of religious conservatives who helped put him in office — but not so much on LGBT issues.

Conservative Christians in particular cheered his nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and Trump’s promised “fix” for the Johnson Amendment, which restricts pastors’ ability to politick in the pulpit.

But for the second time since his inauguration, Trump has decided to preserve an Obama-era initiative to protect sexual minorities.

The State Department announced Monday (Feb. 13) that it would retain Randy Berry, the special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons. In 2014, the Obama administration created Berry’s position to support efforts abroad to protect gay people from violence and death.

The conservative Family Research Council had made removing such “activists” a priority and as recently as December called on the State Department to rid itself of employees who promote an “anti-family, anti-life agenda.”

Tony Perkins, head of the council and a prominent evangelical backer of Trump, called the news that Berry was staying on “a disappointing development.” In a statement on Tuesday, he said the administration should focus on battling “Christian persecution and genocide” rather than promoting gay rights.

“Keeping Berry only signals to the world that the extreme agenda of the Obama years is still deeply entrenched in the State Department,” Perkins concluded.

Rod Dreher, an Orthodox Christian and writer at The American Conservative, said the Berry announcement should cause religious conservatives to question their allegiance to Trump.

“Does Donald Trump wish to continue funding America’s culture war mercenaries abroad?” he wrote. “The signs do not look good. … At some point, I’m betting that conservative Christians are going to wake up and realize that they’ve been played for chumps.”

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Source: Religion News Service |  Lauren Markoe and David Gibson