International Religious Liberty Is Vital, And Trump Needs To Advocate For It

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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For the longest time, the world has watched in horror as thousands across the world have suffered at the hands of despotic governments due to oppressed peoples merely exercising their naturally endowed right to freedom of conscience.

We open our scene on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where thousands of people from of all faiths are unjustly imprisoned for their beliefs and forcibly submitted to horrendous live organ harvesting and torture so that the Communist-controlled government can assert their dominance over thought and culture.

Last year, a colleague and I wrote, in a column for The Blaze, on the importance of ensuring international religious freedom utilizing the faith of Falun Gong and the pain this group continuously suffers as an example, to illustrate need for Americans (especially) to lead the fight in promoting an international environment where religious freedom can flourish absent of despotic intervention.

We indicated that “while many groups in China and around the world are attacked for holding “strange” beliefs, Falun Gong members have been claiming for more than a decade the persecution against them has taken an especially dark turn.” This dark turn, obviously, is the egregious acts of the sitting Chinese government to forcibly extract organs for donation purposes from living “prisoners of conscience” – which includes groups like Chinese Christians and the Uyghurs, of whom are a Muslim majority.

The United Nations has investigated this overt violation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for these prisoners of conscience; but the Chinese government continues to provide organ donation services at relatively low prices and retrieval times, ergo citing some crooked practices in part of the public health officials. Thus, this only lends credibility to the already confirmed fact that the Chinese government is killing its citizens of whom disagree with the majority ideology of Maoist Communism. Simply put, the Chinese government remains unchecked.

American President Donald J. Trump is now presented with a new paradigm in conducting foreign affairs on behalf of the free world. With this, the Trump Administration needs to recognize the importance of protecting religious liberty and freedom of conscience, not just domestically but, abroad. Nevermore, the question remains: “What is the proper way for Trump to help support and affirm international religious liberty?”

For starters, Trump needs to put despotic governments, like the PRC, on blast for oppressing freedom of conscience amongst its citizens. One way of doing this is for the newly confirmed United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to challenge the very representatives of communist and fascist dictatorships, like that of Xi Jinping’s PRC, on the matters of human rights. Trump via Haley needs to leverage the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in favor of victims of despotic regime rule.

Article 18 of the UDHR directly states that, “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

With America’s influence over the UN, President Trump must use such influence to rout out the dissidence of oppressive governmental intervention, no matter the country, on a human’s promulgated right to think and believe freely.

Trump also has the intuitive insight of the United State Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), a federal commission committed to advocating for freedom of conscience and faith across the world, at his disposal. USCIRF and its commissioners provide a level of expertise from the private and the public sector on how foreign governments should recognize and protect religious freedom for their populace that is unmatched.

In the current case on religious liberty in China, USCIRF, in their 2016 annual report concluded that in this past year, “China’s severe religious freedom violations continued.” The report recounted for the Chinese government repressing on several precarious incidences including cases where Uyghur Muslims being prohibited from practicing Ramadan to Christians within the country facing regulations prohibiting sympathetic religious symbols in the public square. Moving away from the atrocities that people of all faiths face in countries like Communist-controlled China, USCIRF serves as the only credulous source on religious freedom across the world in place at the federal level.

Last year, though, the Republican-held House of Representatives even passed a resolution acknowledging the importance of addressing the forced organ harvesting horror for the Falun Gong and all faiths subject to such degradation.

The final argument, in the end, is simple: President Trump has the leverage and the tools to effect positive change for the international faith community. It should be in his Administration’s best interest to ensure that this happens. It is well overdue.