President Donald Trump last September announced at a United Nations religious freedom summit that the U.S. would spend $25 million to protect religious freedom, sites, and relics around the world.
“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government,” President Trump said. “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. Our founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.”
This week the president signed “Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom,” stating that global religious freedom “is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom.”
The freedom to worship freely and live our faith is given to us by God, not governments.
President Trump directed the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to develop a plan to make international religious freedom a priority in the planning and implementation of our foreign policy and in USAID and U.S. Department of State foreign assistance programs. The USAID administrator will budget at least $50 million to advance this initiative. An excerpt:
Executive departments and agencies (agencies) that fund foreign assistance programs shall ensure that faith-based and religious entities, including eligible entities in foreign countries, are not discriminated against on the basis of religious identity or religious belief when competing for Federal funding, to the extent permitted by law.
All federal employees falling under these requirements must complete international religious freedom training every three years.
This order represents a strong commitment by the Trump administration to advocate for religious freedom across the globe, which will be challenging, as some countries repress Christians.
President Trump has made numerous efforts to protect religious freedom domestically. He signed an executive order in 2017 to promote free speech and religious liberty. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services created the Conscience and Religious Freedom division in 2018 to protect health care professionals who oppose killing unborn babies, performing “gender reassignment” surgery, participating in “assisted suicide,” or any other objectionable procedures may refuse to participate based on religious beliefs or conscience. The U.S. Department of Justice created the Religious Liberty Task Force in 2018 to protect religious individuals and groups whose beliefs conflict with government regulations.
The Trump administration supported churches during the COVID-19 crisis. Attorney General William Barr issued a letter to prosecutors urging them to be diligent in protecting Americans’ constitutional rights, and the U.S. Department of Justice issued letters of support in cases where churches have sued the government to protect their rights.