Trump adm. pushing religious freedom around globe

Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Chris Woodward, Steve Jordahl (

Mike Pompeo in EgyptLeaders from various nations across the globe will soon gather in Washington, D.C., to discuss religious freedom.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host another Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom event from July 16–18, which is highly anticipated by many evangelical leaders in the United States.

U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback stressed how the Trump administration has been "focusing on the basics."

"Unfortunately, you've got so many countries in the world that have gotten the basics wrong," Brownback told Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins on his Washington Watch program, broadcasted on American Family Radio (AFR).

Brownback pointed to freedom of assembly and expression as examples of topics that will be discussed in detail.

"A number of countries are stepping up and agreeing with this, in a sense," he explained. "I don't know [how] they'd say it in their words, but in their actions, 'Yes, we've got too many problems going on in this area; it's too critical – we need to be addressing this.'"

This is the second ministerial event of its kind to assemble. The first gathering took place in July 2018.

Pompeo also defended religious freedom in a June 7 speech he delivered at the annual summit hosted by Christians United for Israel.

Pompeo's speech predictably focused on the strong U.S.-Israel relationship but at one point he compared religious freedom in Israel to its neighbors. 

"In many countries," Pompeo stated, "if a Muslim leaves Islam it is considered an apostasy. And it is punishable, indeed, by death." 

In the radio interview, Brownback was asked what he and other organizers are looking to accomplish at this year’s event.

"Really, to push the grassroots movement around the world for religious freedom," the Christian politician answered. "We'll have 1,000 religious freedom activists and religious leaders, and we need them to push for religious freedom for their people, do round tables [and] bind together with other actors to push for this."

Organizers also hope to start a discussion on what Brownback described as "some basic minimums" of what religious freedom looks like in various places around the world.

"You don't just arrest somebody for being a religious minority – you keep people alive," Brownback explained. "If someone is killed because they're a religious minority, you prosecute the people that did the crime – so just really doing some basics and saying, ‘You've got to do these basics to deem yourself anywhere close to starting your country down a road of protecting religious minorities.’"

Editor's Note: This story has been updated with comments delivered by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the the Christians United for Israel summit.

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