Deseret News | What’s next for religious freedom in 2019? Faith leaders and policymakers weigh in

Johnnie Moore

Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, member of President Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, ordained Southern Baptist pastor



There’s a ton of energy right now around peaceful coexistence, which I think is the nearest neighbor to religious freedom. In some very unlikely places, people are willing to have open conversations about what needs to change and ways to change.

This year, I’ve made two visits to Saudi Arabia. I’ve been to Indonesia. I’ve been in dialogue with Egyptians and Jordanians.

Through those experiences thinking about religious freedom in an Islamic context, I’ve become less of a religious freedom activist and more of an advocate. I’m taking a more humble approach. Instead of walking into meetings and wagging my finger, I’m sitting down at the table and saying, ‘Help me understand.’

As a Christian, I do not have permission to not love someone. Every single human being is made in the image of God. I have to engage with people who are like me and who aren’t like me, people who think like me and don’t think like me, people who have my religion and don’t have my religion.

You don’t fully understand your own position until you understand other perspectives. I think everyone is too quick to point fingers.

Religious freedom makes building trust and understanding easier. People aren’t fearful of sharing their point of view.

I’m focused on building trust within the religious freedom landscape. Rather than scream at each other and have big public fights, people need to sit down in good faith around the table and consider how to move forward. People should not be discriminated against, but religious freedom cannot be compromised.

Let’s sit down around the same table and let’s negotiate about acceptable, lawful solutions. Let’s stop playing zero-sum games.

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