“Religious Freedom Under the Gun:” The Obama Administrations Failure to Defend International Religious Liberty
July 9, 2012
It is, perhaps, the most stinging rebuke yet written of the current administration’s failure to defend religious liberty throughout the world.
The article, “Religious Freedom Under the Gun: The Obama Administration neglects a key foreign policy issue was written by Americas first director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom (1999-2003), Dr. Tom Farr. Dr. Farr, who was FRCs Witherspoon Lecturer in 2010 and spoke again on religious liberty at FRC last fall, is now director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown Universitys Berkley Center.
Reading the article would be among the more profitable ways for any of us to spend a little time. Dr. Farr argues that America should stand with the persecuted as a matter of principle (millions of people are suffering because of violent religious persecution) and national self-interest. As he puts it:
… the advancement of religious freedom would serve vital American interests. Both history and social science make it clear that highly religious nations like Egypt and Pakistan will not achieve stable democracy unless they embrace religious freedom in full. Nor will they be able to defeat the toxic religious ideas that feed violent Islamist terrorism, including the kind that has reached American shores.
He also makes the disturbing but well-documented point that the Obama Administration has made the advancement of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights a higher priority in its foreign policy than defending religious liberty. This is an embarrassment and shame to our country.
The evidenceboth in the world and at Foggy Bottommakes it reasonably clear that the United States is doing little to advance religious freedom in its foreign policy, writes Dr. Farr. This is a break with our moral convictions and our vital security interests as a nation.
It is all of a larger piece, of course: The current administration is committed to violating the religious conscience of all who believe in the sanctity of life by compelling Catholic hospitals and Catholic and Evangelical colleges and universities to offer health care plans that include abortion and abortion drug coverage. FRC has taken a leading role in opposing this historic and massive violation of our first freedom, religious liberty.
The failure of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to defend religious liberty abroad, although disheartening, is almost inevitable: They cannot defend abroad what they and their administration colleagues are working to erode here at home.
Thankfully, leaders like U.S. Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Trent Franks (R-AZ) continue to fight for the protection of Christians and other religious minorities in the developing world. Lets pray for them – and for our own nation, conceived in liberty in the belief that God has made each person valuable and accountable. Thats the core of what it means to be American. We dare not lose it.