Wednesday, June 3, 2020
On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order “advancing international religious freedom.” The order defines religious freedom as “a moral and national security imperative” for America, and as “a foreign policy priority of the United States” as it pertains to people worldwide. It discusses, among other things, long-term planning, funding, overseas training for U.S. government personnel, and use of economic tools to protect religious freedom.
Speaking on “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Sam Brownback, Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, called the signing a milestone.
“No administration has ever done an executive order on international religious freedom, and one as expansive as what the one the administration did today,” said Brownback. “This is a big day on issues regarding religious freedom and particularly those abroad.”
Perkins, who is a sitting member of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), added that the Trump administration – like any administration – is “putting teeth” into the order by actually putting money behind it.
“This is directing our money, because you know you speak very loudly internationally with your money,” he offered. “And this is directing USAID, as America’s international relief organization, to put money toward programs that actually advance international religious freedom.”
According to the executive order, at least $50 million will be budgeted annually for programs that advance international religious freedom.
Tuesday’s signing followed a visit by the president to the shrine of Pope John Paul II in northeast Washington, DC. The White House says that trip was already scheduled as part of an observation marking John Paul’s first visit to his native Poland after becoming pope.
In September 2019 photo above, President Donald Trump speaks at the United Nations on the issue of religious freedom around the world.