Earlier this month the elite of largely-liberal Hollywood filed into the famous International Ballroom of The Beverly Hilton, in part to honor an evangelical advocate for persecuted Christians. That evening, Johnnie Moore received the prestigious “medal of valor” from the Simon Wiesenthal Center — one of the most significant human rights organizations in the world — moments before the same award was given posthumously to the Nobel laureate and co-founder of the modern state of Israel, Shimon Peres.
Rev. Moore followed a prolonged standing ovation by dedicating his award to persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria even while calling that erudite crowd to do more to protect them. Rarely in our modern time has one of our Christian brethren been honored in such a way and in front of such a crowd.
The timing could not have been more poignant.
Just days later, on Palm Sunday, two suicide bombers unleashed their latest, appalling attack on Middle Eastern Christians. This time on the historic Coptic church in Egypt. The attacks — killing nearly 50 — shook all of Christendom during our holiest week and reminded us yet again that terrorists still very much aim to exterminate Christians from the region.
I wish I could say that the Palm Sunday attacks were isolated incidents. They were not. I wish I could say that religious persecution only occurs in places like Egypt and the Middle East. It does not. I wish I could say that religious intolerance was declining around the world. It is not.
I even wish I could say that it was only we Christians facing these threats. Unfortunately, we’re not.
Jews, Yazidis, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims all face varying forms of religious persecution, intolerance and violence the world over. This is, in part, why I recently dedicated my weekly Univision column to the subject, laying out the case that religious freedom is the number one human rights issue of our time for now three-quarters of the world‘s people live in a country with high or very high restrictions on religion.
The sheer scale of the issue is without rival.
This is exactly why the Trump Administration must move with urgency to fill the vacant Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom within the US State Department — and, just as importantly, appoint the right person to the job.
As the number one government official responsible for promoting and promulgating religious liberty around the world, this post serves a singularly important role in our time.
The Ambassador of International Religious Freedom ensures that the U.S. maintains its moral authority to fight the disease of religious intolerance, bigotry and hate. Secondly, the position provides a dedicated watchdog tasked with defending the rights of the world’s most vulnerable and marginalized religious minorities. Thirdly, because the position is resourced and sanctioned by the United States Government, the office has unparalleled access and diplomatic strength.
The demands of the job are so varied and challenging that the position requires an extremely unique individual. They must be credible, knowledgeable and skilled in diplomacy and international policy. They must be articulate and well respected within the public square. All of these qualities are necessary, but they must also be effective on the ground. The position requires someone who has had spearheaded practical, humanitarian triumphs as well as defended the religious freedom of multiple faiths, not just the one they personally ascribe to. This person must work across the aisle, across religions, and yet be principled themselves.
This is all why I believe President Trump should appoint Rev. Johnnie Moore to this critically important position. For as long as I’ve known Johnnie I’ve known him to be a fierce advocate for the persecuted. This is why he’s been rightly and frequently recognized as a global leader on the issue even prompting one Middle Eastern Christian denomination to deem him a “savior of thousands.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. He has been named by CNN and Fox News as “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME Magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.