President Donald Trump earlier this week urged other nations to take concrete steps to protect persecuted religious minorities around the world. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke at the United Nations General Assembly event titled a “Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom.”
The president and other U.S. officials skipped most of a major UN climate summit on Monday to attend the meeting. In his speech at the religious liberty event, Trump announced his administration would allot $25 million to protect houses of worship, religious sites, and relics around the world. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom made protecting houses of worship a key recommendation in its 2019 report. The president also said he is working on forming a coalition of U.S. businesses that would promote religious freedom. He said the initiative would “encourage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace.”
“As we speak, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Yazidis, 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,” the president said.
Jenny Yang, vice president of advocacy and policy with World Relief, commended the president for bringing attention to religious persecution on the global stage but said the administration should make sure all its policies work toward that end. “We believe that the sharp declines in refugee resettlement over the last two years is directly counter to those goals,” she said.
Some faith and policy groups have expressed concern that the administration’s tightening of its refugee program could negatively affect persecuted people of faith hoping to find stability and safety in the United States.
“It’s important for [the administration] to practice at home what they’re preaching abroad,” Yang said. —H.P.