At his third visit to the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump impressed upon world leaders the importance of religious freedom, a topic rarely discussed at the U. N. Specifically, the president noted that “80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is in significant danger or even completely outlawed.” (He focused extensively on China and Iran). He promised “Americans will never tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion.”
President Trump also became the first sitting president to host a U.N. meeting on religious freedom. At this event, he challenged other nations to combat religious persecution. He also emphasized the need to protect places of worship and announced the United States will dedicate $25 million to protect religious freedom, religious sites, and relics.
Many in the mainstream media widely panned the president’s advocacy for America’s historic values. Politico dismissed the speech’s focus on religious liberty as merely an “appeal to his evangelical supporters.” The Associated Press seemed to dismiss religious liberty as simply “an issue that resonates with his evangelical supporters.” When did religious liberty become so divisive?
America’s commitment to religious liberty, both at home and abroad, has not always been controversial. As recently as 1993, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (the law passed unanimously in the House and by a 97-3 vote in the Senate and was signed into law by President Clinton).
Despite longstanding bipartisan support, two societal trends have made calls to restrict religious liberty increasingly common. First, as America’s religious landscape has become more secular, there is no longer a consensus about the role of religion in public life. Second, as society has moved away from a biblical understanding of marriage and human sexuality, historical, Christian beliefs on these topics are increasingly seen as outdated, or worse, hateful.
As a result of these trends, even some Christians have a poor understanding of religious liberty. There is a growing perception that support for religious liberty is a pretense for codifying prejudice and bigotry into law. Therefore, Christians who care about preserving religious liberty must articulate more persuasively why protecting everyone’s religious beliefs and practices serves all people.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, David Closson