by Tony Perkins, FRC:
There may have been 60 heads of state at today’s U.N. climate summit, but it was the one person organizers weren’t expecting who caused a stir. President Donald Trump surprised a lot of people by slipping into the environmental meeting — but it’s what he did down the hall a few minutes later that made history. Like most of his administration, he understands that there’s a climate that poses a lot bigger threat — and that’s the climate of religious hostility presently harming men and women around the world.
Donald Trump is used to breaking new ground, but his decision to host a forum on international religious freedom at the general assembly is a first. And not a moment too soon, Vice President Mike Pence insisted in his introduction — noting that 80 percent of the world’s population suffers every day under some form of faith-based oppression. “When I first heard that number,” the president told the audience, “I said, ‘Please go back and check it.’” He, like a lot of people, can’t believe that so many hundreds of millions of people live in fear of exercising the one liberty Americans take for granted every day: religious freedom. Unfortunately, he went on, the statistic was right. And today, the United States is challenging the rest of the world to do something about it.
“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights don’t come from government — they come from God,” the president explained to a room that included a diverse faith community, dozens of victims of religious persecution, members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and U.N. leaders. “We’ve done a lot,” the president said, highlighting the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, the two State Department ministerials, international coalition building, millions of dollars in foreign aid, and a new initiative to involve businesses in the safeguarding of liberties. As part of this morning’s speech, the president also announced that the U.S. would dedicate another $25 million to the overall cause, which will also help in the preservation of “religious sites and relics.”
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