Trump Signs an Executive Order to Promote International Religious Freedom

Trump Signs an Executive Order to Promote International Religious Freedom
President Donald Trump walks out of the White House to make a statement to the press about restoring "law and order" in Washington, on June 1, 2020. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON—President Trump signed June 2 an executive order to prioritize religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy and assistance programs.

“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,” the order stated.

“Within 180 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of State shall, in consultation with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), develop a plan to prioritize international religious freedom in the planning and implementation of United States foreign policy and in the foreign assistance programs of the Department of State and USAID.”

The new order also allocates at least $50 million per year for programs that promote international religious freedom.

Eighty percent of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened or banned.

In September last year, Trump called on countries to end religious persecution around the world at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York. He was the first leader to initiate such a discussion at the UNGA high-level meetings.

He urged governments to stop persecuting their citizens, release prisoners of conscience, eliminate laws that restrict religion, and protect oppressed people.

The Chinese regime has been consistently designated by the U.S. State Department as a “country of particular concern” for its poor record on religious freedom since 1999.

Religious groups of all kinds are under attack in China, including Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Muslims, and adherents of the ancient spiritual discipline Falun Gong. They suffer from systematic arrest, unlawful imprisonment, torture, and brainwashing. According to researchers, the government is using various methods of persecution, which includes forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience.

Religious freedom in China has further eroded as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) seeks to export suppression internationally, according to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report released in April.

Beijing has built detention camps to detain an estimated 1 million Uyghur and other ethnic minority Muslims in the far western Xinjiang region. Elsewhere, the demolition of underground churches and other houses of worship continues.

The report also states that thousands of Falun Gong practitioners were arrested last year for refusing to give up their beliefs or for distributing literature related to the practice.

USCIRF Commissioner Gary L. Bauer told The Epoch Times that the long list of religious violations and the regime’s growing hostility toward faith have made China the world’s “worst abuser of religious liberty.”

“China has declared war on all religious faith,” he said, adding that the regime has become “an international threat.”

There are alarming signals that the Chinese regime is spreading its human rights abuses around the world, according to the report.

Chinese diplomats continue to subvert international rights organizations. For example, in February, Beijing vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that sought to protect Rohingya refugees in Burma (also known as Myanmar).

Facial recognition technology, which the CCP has relied on to build a mass surveillance state, has also proliferated in more than 100 countries and, in some cases, served as a tool for targeting political dissidents, the report noted.

And the pandemic did not stop the oppression carried out by the regime, according to Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.

“Even during the strictest parts of the lockdown, the Chinese Government was conducting a campaign to send a million police to 10 million homes in Tibet to further restrict the Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism, even during the pandemic,” he said at a State Department briefing on May 14.

“And then also we’re seeing in the Uyghur Muslim community they’re facing increase of vulnerabilities as they’re being forced to work despite coronavirus risk, and they’re being further exposed.”

Epoch Times staff Eva Fu contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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