President Donald Trump was faithful to his word by signing an executive order protecting our First Freedom. May 4th of this year marks the one-year anniversary of President Trump issuing his Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty—an achievement that has had a tangible impact on the protection and priority of religious freedom throughout the executive branch over the past twelve months.
Now is the time to engage in the issue of religious freedom because it's in our own interest to do so. We finally have the personnel in place to understand and promote this religious freedom worldwide. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just been confirmed, following the earlier confirmation of Sam Brownback as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. Combine that with this president's increasing focus on the issue, and we have a recipe for global success.
Now that our government is ready to be engaged on this, what should we do? Our foreign policy professionals have to start by embracing religion as an area of engagement. They've been trained to stay away from it as a "problem" area, but this is the wrong approach. To address the many issues around the world right now, not least of which is radical Islam, we need engagement from within those communities, including from within Muslim communities. And how do you engage religious leaders on the cause of religious freedom if you're not engaging with them at all?
Religious freedom is often dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and for this reason, many foreign policy professionals don't see it as central to their work. But there is an overwhelming correlation between nations which are threats to the United States and nations which violate religious freedom. In light of this, one would think foreign policy professionals would see why they need to understand religion.
Unfortunately, they are trained to think religion is toxic, and we have thus failed to engage on it. Even the nonpartisan Center for Security and International Studies points out our failure in this area. Those who want to brush off religious engagement are aided by courts interpreting the Establishment Clause in an unrealistic and improper manner -- to exclude religious engagement by our government.
All of this, unfortunately, works only to our detriment because if we don't engage religious communities, we can't build conditions for religious freedom.
Source: Family Research Council
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