President Donald Trump delivered an historic speech on religious freedom Monday at the United Nations. Several of his evangelical advisors were at his side.
It was the first time a U.S. president had addressed the United Nations on the topic of religious freedom. Trump explained to the world leaders and lawmakers assembled at the U.N. that America had a moral right to speak on the topic:
Trump: "The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government, they come from God. This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution's Bill of Rights."
He noted that 11 Christians are martyred each day around the world, and asked the rest of the international community to join in the effort to protect them as well as others who suffer for their faith:
Trump: "Approximately 80 percent of the world's population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted or even banned …. As we speak, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and many other people of faith are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured, and even murdered – often at the hands of their own government – simply for expressing their deeply held religious beliefs."
"Today, with one clear voice, the United States of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution."
Several of the president's evangelical advisors came along for the address, including Franklin Graham with Samaritan's Purse, Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, and Southern Baptist pastor Dr. Robert Jeffress, who points out that Trump wasn't just the first U.S. president to address the subject at the U.N.
"It was fantastic – and you know, it was also historic," Jeffress tells OneNewsNow. "This is the first time any leader of any nation in history has addressed the U.N. exclusively on the topic of religious persecution."
The Dallas pastor compared the Trump administration to the Obama administration.
"The ironic thing is the previous administration, the Democrats, believed that the one transcendent human right that crosses all national borders is the right to kill your own baby through abortion," he laments. "But President Trump believes that's not a human right. The human right we all enjoy is the right to worship God."
Two legal firms also are applauding President Trump for taking a stand on religious freedom before the international body.
"As an organization that's committed to defending religious freedom for all Americans, First Liberty Institute is pleased to see President Trump continue his outstanding record on religious liberty thus far," says attorney Mike Berry at First Liberty Institute.
"Our founders understood that if America and the world is to remain free and prosperous, religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and free exercise is really going to have to serve as a foundation for that," the attorney continues. "So we are encouraged to see the president continue America's commitment to being a city on a hill, and that commitment will ensure that others see our example and hopefully they will follow it."
Kelsey Zorzi, director of advocacy for global religious freedom at ADF International, argues that religious freedom is a fundamental right that all countries are called to protect.
"The president's speech is an important and historic moment precisely because religious freedom is too often ignored or downplayed at the U.N.," she acknowledges. "At a time when persecution is on the rise, and over 80 percent of the world's population lives in countries with high restrictions on religious freedom, every country should make securing religious freedom a high priority."
The president also announced that his administration would dedicate an additional $25 million to protecting religious sites and places of worship and has launched a new coalition of business leaders to promote religious freedom.