Religious Freedom is Ours to Win or Lose
By Ramblin’ Rose

We mourn the torture and repression of Christians in other countries. Figures from the Pew Research Center reveal the horrific facts that more than 6 BILLION people in 83 countries experience high or very high restrictions on religious beliefs and practice or social hostilities due to religion.

We have felt safe in our nation…“One nation under God.”

But reviewing national polls about the precipitous decline in the number of professed Believers in the last decade, the warnings from Church leaders about the closing of numerous congregations, the proposals in Congress to force a leftist agenda on our nation, legalized abortion (infanticide), and the Supreme Court ruling last week that redefines “gender” as emotion and not biological identity, cut to the hearts of Christians.

Debates and concessions have grown in the last few weeks about the acceptance of “taking a knee” to protest our national flag. Who remembers how Tebow was ridiculed and humiliated by leftists for taking a knee to pray to God? How many recall the numerous high school and college coaches that have been fired because they prayed on the field—by themselves, with their team or allowed their teams to pray?

As the pandemic raged in our land and around the world, allegedly the most requested and purchased book was the Bible. Is there some hope? Have more turned to God or just purchased the Bible to hold it to their heart as hopeful students sleep with their textbook for a pillow before an exam?

Jeremy P. Barker, Director, Middle East Action Team and Senior Program Officer for the Religious Freedom Institute defined religious freedom with this statement: “As articulated in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, core international covenants such as Article 18 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and contemporary research, religious freedom [emphasis added] is understood to be a fundamental human right, the cornerstone of a successful society, and a source of national and international security.”

WE cherish our First Amendment Rights. It is reassuring to know that religious freedom was a part of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even though that fact was not a part of the school curriculum in the last 50 years, at least. Nor was/is the passage of the United States International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) in 1998 a part of traditional public-school teaching. That act brought attention to the status of religious freedom around the world. Through IRFA, the policy of the United States became one “to condemn violations of religious freedom, and to promote, and to assist other governments in the promotion of, the fundamental right to freedom of religion.”

Consequently, a new position, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, within the State Department mandates an annual report of religious freedoms in every country and an independent Commission on international religious freedom at the National Security Council.

President Trump’s Executive Order 13926 of June 2, 2020, mandates that “Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative. Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom.”

While the USA was the first country to enact the IRFA policy, now more than two dozen countries have similar positions and policies.

In July 2018, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initiated the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom to address religious freedom violations on a global level with foreign officials at the ministerial level and representatives from those societies, as well as victims of religious persecution and discrimination. The sole focus of the meeting was “the unalienable human right of religious freedom.” Vice President Pence addressed the gathering.

The second annual (2019) Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom was the largest religious freedom event of its kind in the world, with more than 1000 civil and religious leaders from more than 100 invited foreign delegations.

The Trump Administration sets a priority on the protection of the unalienable right of religious freedom. In September 2019, President Trump hosted the first Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom at the United Nations General Assembly, with UN Secretary General António Guterres, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary Pompeo in attendance.

In 2020, Warsaw, Poland, is set to host the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

I do try to regularly follow the news, but I only recall media coverage of the “irregular” manner in which President Trump addressed the General Assembly of the UN last fall. Was there positive coverage of this event?

It has been gratifying to have speakers at the National Prayer Breakfast, in recent years, that laud Christian/Judeo beliefs, traditions and practices instead of spanking them publicly for past atrocities—in the name of religion.

While there is no guarantee that there is a movement to again embrace the universal unalienable rights of the freedom of religion, it is reassuring to know that the current administration is working to advance those opportunities.

In the words of another great leader of this country, “If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” (Ronald Reagan)

God bless America!!

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