Trump’s Religious Freedom Order in Peril With Biden Win?
July 1, 2020 | by James G. Dalton
President Donald Trump on June 2 signed an executive order elevating religious freedom within the State Department worldwide, but Christianity Today notes the order could be short-lived if Joe Biden claims victory in November.
That is partly because of a long history of new presidents reversing executive orders of their predecessors, and partly because it has taken some time for religious freedom to reach such protected status, despite it being one of America’s founding principles.
“Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom,” read the executive order.
The U.S. government often slow-walks international religious freedom for fear of causing tensions with other countries, Paul Marshall, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, said.
He noted, while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, the U.S. would not declare Nigeria’s Boko Haram a terrorist organization. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the first time put Nigeria as a Special Watch List nation.
International religious freedom has enjoyed bipartisan support, but Trump has sparked waves recently even among some in his own party with a photo op in front of St. John’s Church in Washington, D.C.
And he signed the executive order after visiting the Pope John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. Even though the trip had been previously scheduled to mark the anniversary of pope’s return in 1979 to his home nation of Poland, it occurred the day after the Bible photo op where George Floyd protesters were cleared with tear gas, and Washington’s Catholic archbishop said it was “baffling and reprehensible” for the facility to be manipulated.
White Evangelicals, who supported Trump at 81% in 2016, have dropped their support to 62% in June.
Many Evangelicals are pressing support for Trump in November to keep the EO alive.
“President Trump’s executive order will make the commitment to international religious freedom more robust,” former congressman Frank Wolf told Christianity Today. “If you care about religious freedom, this is an issue to vote on.”