Trump Fights for Guaranteed Religious Freedom For All : President Donald Trump, in what has been hailed as a watershed moment for religious freedom advocates, an Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom on June 2 in the National Shrine of Pope St. John Paul II in Washington, D.C. Trump reiterated the 2017 National Security Strategy which highlighted the American Founding Fathers’ understanding that religious freedom not as a creation of the state, but as a gift of God to every person and a right that is fundamental for the flourishing of our society.
The order establishes what the Trump administration has termed the “White House Faith and Opportunity Initiative,” which prioritizes religious freedom as a moral and national security imperative for the United States.
Trump Fights for Guaranteed Religious Freedom For All : The Executive Order
- the imposing of economic and diplomatic sanctions the upon international violators of religious freedom
- an integration of religious freedom training as part of State Department policy and diplomatic missions
- an allocation of $50 million from the USAID budget to fund programs aimed at advancing the cause of international religious freedom
- programs will include efforts to detect and prevent imminent attacks on religious communities
- funding measured reprisals against the perpetrators of such attacks.
While the language of the executive order is inclusive in emphasizing “all faiths” are to be afforded “equal rights and legal protections,” it is quite apparent that it is to help stop the genocide being committed against persecuted Christians in the Islamic world.
Trump Fights for Guaranteed Religious Freedom For All : Hypocritical Criticism by Catholic Liberal Bishops
While one would think that the Catholic hierarchy would be pleased, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who had previously served as president of the Conference of American Catholic Bishops lashed out against the President Trump for hi visit to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine—the Shrine explained that the visit had been planned far in advance—the day after the President walked to St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House.
The archbishop, reflecting the sentiments of many socialist and pro-LGBTQ church officials, stated: “I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people, even those with whom we might disagree.”
Just consider, as Crisis Magazine editor Michael Warren Davis outlined, how extraordinary it is to hear a Catholic bishop essentially say, “This man shouldn’t be allowed into our churches because I don’t agree with his politics.” No bishop has ever said that pro-abort politicians should be barred from church. They, in fact, would be encouraged to attend Mass until they are prepared to confess their sin, do penance, and receive Holy Communion. But Archbishop Gregory does not even want Mr. Trump putting his foot in the door.
Gregory’s statement is on par with most left-wing American Catholics deem vital. According to a poll conducted by Aid to a 2018 poll by Church in Need-USA/McLaughlin & Associates, they held global warming was more important than helping out persecuted Christians.
If I may be so bold to speak as a Roman Catholic priest, we should not be surprised at Gregory’s criticism of Trump, or for that matter other members of the hierarchy. They have broken the First Commandment by worshiping other gods—the “god of bodily health”—during the COVID-19 chaos, subsequently undermining the salvation of souls by denying the faithful the Sacrament of the Eucharist. People have also died without confession and last rites. As highlighted by John Horvat II, at a time when protesters crowd the streets, churches that can hold hundreds are often limited to 10 or 25 people. And they do not seem to be in any rush to reopen the churches as they should. This, too, Trump tried to tackle by classifying places of worship as essential during the coronavirus lockdown.
Trump’s executive order obviously cannot address every form of religious discrimination in the world, which is not limited to Christians. Yet his order is more than a symbolic gesture. The fact that he signed it in a shrine named after a shepherd who took on communism and human rights violations throughout the world should be supported by every Catholic bishop in the country to ensure its success.
Mario Alexis Portella is a priest of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy. He has a doctorate in canon law and civil law from the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome; he also holds a M. A. in Medieval History from Fordham University, as well as a B.A. in Government & Politics from St. John’s University. He is author of Islam: Religion of Peace – The Violation of Natural Rights and Western Cover-Up.
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