Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order for Religious Freedom around the world, calling it a “moral and national security imperative.” The Executive Order demands that religious freedom become the number one priority for foreign policy matters and foreign aid assistance programs carried out by the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
Not much has been said about this executive order in the international news, but it is a big deal during these turbulent times.
There is no doubt that many Christians around the world love President Donald Trump and there are an equal number that loath him, but regardless of personal feelings – this executive order is being applauded by Christian leaders around the world.
The order specifically requires that the US State Department spend at least $50 million per year to advance religious freedom and protect groups and individuals subject to religious persecution. The President signed the Executive Order on the same day that he visited a shrine in D.C., Honoring Pope John Paul II, as well as visiting a church across from the White House that had been attacked by rioters, vandalized, and set on fire.
According to a BTJ Podcast with University of Notre Dame Professor and Religious Freedom Institute Senior Associate Scholar, this Executive Order has the power to influence foreign policy as well as the manner in which US Aid is distributed in the future.
What makes this Executive Order a game changer however, is how it brings religious freedom responsibility back to the seat of an independent sovereign nation – the United States. For years, the world has been investing and making foreign policy decisions largely independent of any connection to abuses of religious freedom. That task has been largely delegated out to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, but in April, the UNHRC lost all credibility when it appointed China to head up those international efforts.
China, arguably one of the largest religious freedom violators in the world, has been appointed to one of the most influential chairs of the UNHRC with powers to appoint investigative teams to look into nations that violate religious freedom, human rights, etc. The Chinese Communist Party does not allow freedom of religion, freedom of press, freedom of speech, or even freedom for the people to elect their own leaders. They run re-education camps with millions of prisoners in Muslim areas of China, Tibetan Buddhists are routinely attacked by the military and subjected to humiliating laws, and Christians are hunted down every week. China executes more people than all the nations in the world – combined. Most executions are expedited with little more than a fake five minute trial. Body organs have been harvested among religious minorities in China like the Falun Gong and Christians have been forced into slave labor to make factory goods for American consumers.
Now, they have been put in charge of the international organization that is tasked with investigating nations that violate religious freedoms; this is the fox being put in charge of the hen-house.
The unfortunate portion about this Executive Order however, is that it does not take effect for another 180 days. The United States has a presidential election in November and it is not certain if Trump will win to implement this order. It is also unlikely that his opponent Joe Biden will honor this executive order if he wins.
BTJ asks all of our partners to pray for the persecuted believers around the world. To learn more details about this Executive Order – you can listen here.