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OPINION

Trump Delivers Long-Overdue Call for Religious Freedom

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

On Monday, President Donald Trump delivered a truly historic speech at the United Nations in New York, and it was virtually ignored by the drive-by and fake media. The speech was on religious liberty, soul freedom and freedom of conscience. I have been waiting for years, even decades, for an American president to so articulately set forth the bedrock foundation upon which our Constitution and our freedoms are built.

President Trump delivered the speech I would have wanted to deliver if I ever had been given the opportunity to do so. He began by proclaiming, “The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; 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 own religious convictions.”

The president then went on to explain, “Regrettably, religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world. Approximately 80% of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberties are threatened, restricted or even banned.”

“As we speak, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and many other people of faith are being jailed, sanctioned, tortured and even murdered, often at the hands of their own government, simply for expressing their deeply held religious beliefs. Today with one clear voice, the United States of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution.”

Note “one clear voice”—this is an important distinction. In this stirring speech, President Trump proclaimed America’s solidarity with people of all faiths around the globe, as he said, “America stands with believers in every country who ask only for the freedom to live according to the faith that is within their own hearts.” He then went on to say, “America will always be a voice for victims of religious persecution everywhere.”

Then he pointed out that true tolerance means “respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs. The United States of America will forever remain at your and the side of all who seek religious freedom. Today I ask all nations to join us in this urgent moral duty. We ask the governments of the world to honor the eternal right of every person to follow their conscience, live by their faith and give glory to God.”

This was a great speech proclaiming the highest and noblest of American ideals, which we believe are universal values—the right of everyone, not just Americans, to worship and live their lives according to the dictates of their own consciences without interference from government.

Another section of the president’s speech I believe deserves special attention calls the world community to concerted action to stop heinous crimes being committed against people of faith around the globe.

“In recent times,” the president said, “the world also has witnessed devastating acts of violence in sacred places of worship. In 2016, an 85-year-old Catholic priest was viciously killed while celebrating mass in Normandy, France. In the past year, the United States endured horrifying anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish-Americans at synagogues in Pennsylvania and California. In March, Muslims praying with their families were sadistically murdered in New Zealand. On Easter Sunday this year, terrorists bombed Christian churches in Sri Lanka killing hundreds of faithful worshipers.”

And, the president continued, these “evil attacks are a wound on all humanity. We must all work together to protect communities of every faith. We’re also urging every nation to increase prosecution and punishment of crimes against religious communities.”

Thank you, Mr. President. Your words were long overdue and never more needed.

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