Evangelical Leaders Respond After New York Times Says Trump Harms Religious Freedom by Showing Intolerance to Some, Favoritism to Others

Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the first-ever State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom at the Harry S. Truman Building in Washington, D.C. on July 27, 2018. He is joined on stage by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Evangelical leaders have responded to the New York Times‘ claim that the Trump administration is undermining its own priority of protecting religious freedom by emphasizing the policy priorities of evangelical Christians.

On Saturday, The New York Times editorial board published an opinion piece titled “A Too-Narrow Vision of Religious Freedom.”

The piece essentially argues that although “the Trump administration embraces a laudable desire to expand religious tolerance” across the globe, it is the administration’s “own intolerance toward some” that “undermines the message.”

For examples of intolerance, NYT mentions “Trump’s disgraceful attempts to ban Muslims from some countries from entering the United States; his reprehensible treatment of refugees and immigrants, especially in separating children from their parents; and his continued support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has caused a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The op-ed begins by applauding the administration for holding the first-ever State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in July that was attended by delegations from over 80 countries.

However, the piece says, the ministerial’s good intentions are “in danger of being undermined by the administration’s political agenda, which emphasizes the American strain of evangelical Christianity over other beliefs.”

Additionally, the op-ed argues that the administration’s immigration and refugee resettlement policies “belie its stated defense of religious rights.”

“The current administration took its advocacy to a new level with the three-day conference, whose invited participants were more diverse than many expected. Despite his own strict Catholic leanings, Sam Brownback, the ambassador for international religious freedom, said the goal was to protect religious freedom for all, ‘not to say we favor this faith or that faith,'” the op-ed reads.

“Yet, the event, headlined by Vice President Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian, was clearly meant to appeal most to the evangelicals who are among the president’s most fervent political supporters, reflecting a selectivity that is antithetical to the very concept of religious freedom.”

At least two informal evangelical advisers to the Donald Trump White House who also serve on the United States International Commission on International Religious Freedom objected to arguments made in the New York Times piece.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith