On Monday, President Donald Trump made history with a big push for the United Nations to truly focus its attention on global religious liberty.
On the first day of a three-day scheduled visit during the UN’s General Assembly, the President’s big focus was a meeting about the worldwide persecution of religious minorities, especially Christians.
The event called a “Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom,” was attended by key evangelical leaders including Franklin Graham, Paula White, Jentezen Franklin, Tim Clinton, and Cissie Graham Lynch. The president was introduced by Vice President Mike Pence.
He said the facts are clear that 80 percent of the world doesn’t enjoy the same protection for religious freedom that US citizens enjoy.
Trump said it was an “urgent moral duty” for world leaders to stop crimes against faith.
“The United States of America calls upon the nations of the world to end religious persecution, to stop the crimes against prisoners of faith, to release prisoners of conscience,” Trump said.
The Trump administration has hosted annual meetings on the topic in Washington, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced during this year’s event that he would create an international alliance dedicated to the issue.
Before the event, the White House issued a statement saying, “The President is working to broaden international support for ongoing efforts to protect religious freedom in the wake of increasing persecution of people on the basis of their beliefs and a growing number of attacks on and destruction of houses of worship by state and non-state actors.”
One prominent fan of the President’s is First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress, who lauded Trump for focusing on religious freedom instead of climate change.
“What president in history would have the guts to do what President Trump is doing?” Jeffress, who was set to be in the audience for Trump’s speech, said on Fox News. “And it’s this kind of leadership that is absolutely infuriating the president’s enemies, but it’s also energizing his base, especially his religious base of voters.”
Johnnie Moore, a commissioner on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, also attended the event.
Moore issued a statement saying, “The President of the United States has decided to set his own agenda for the United Nations General Assembly and that agenda will involve the most sweeping, focused statement on religious freedom ever delivered by any President of the United States to the United Nations.”
“All of this just weeks after the Department of State hosted the largest human rights event in its history and that event was focused on religious freedom. Simply put, the President is using the full weight of the United States to force the issue of religious freedom on the agendas of world leaders at the United Nations. It is not a secondary issue to the United States. It is an organizing principle for the United States and ought to be for all global leaders. This is legitimately historic,” he said.
The latest news out of the Middle East is also a big part of the agenda at the UN this week as the president works to build a coalition to confront Iran after the massive coordinated airstrike on a major oil production facility in Saudi Arabia. Other countries will be focusing on the centerpiece of this year’s UN schedule, which is a session today on climate change.