Trump and the Politics of International Religious Freedom
1.1. From Advocacy to Law: The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
- The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (2000): The Act targeted international crime syndicates who sent children and women, mainly from the Global South, into prostitution and sweatshops in many parts of the world (Lobasz 2019).
- The Sudan Peace Act (2002): Christian evangelicals championed the Act, outraged by Sudan’s Islamist government’s persecution of southern Sudanese Christians and animists. The Act and its accompanying sanctions were influential in helping to develop the road map for Sudan’s ceasefire (2003) and subsequent peace treaty (2004) (Srinivasan 2014).
- The North Korea Human Rights Act (2004): Christian evangelicals and Korean Americans strongly lobbied for this Act. It encouraged the Bush administration both to aid North Korean defectors and to draw attention to its government’s egregious human rights violations and nuclear weapons programme (Chang 2006).
1.2. The Trump Administration and Judeo-Christian Values and Beliefs
Religious freedom, America’s first freedom, is a moral and national security imperative. 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. As stated in the 2017 National Security Strategy, our Founders understood 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. (https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/06/05/2020-12430/advancing-international-religious-freedom).
Listen to any religious-right pundit discuss the intersection of governing and faith, and you’ll likely hear them refer to Judeo-Christian values. Take Focus on the Family (FOTF), for example, a fundamentalist Christian advocacy organization with a public policy approach self-described as ‘drawn from the wisdom of the Bible and the Judeo-Christian ethic’. Under this guise of Judeo-Christian values, FOTF opposes same-sex marriage and LGBTQ equality, staunchly lobbies against abortion and reproductive freedom, and promotes creationism and abstinence-only sex education.
- The Office of International Religious Freedom (OIRF), established in 1998 by the IRFA and controlled by the State Department.
- The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), established in 1998 by the IRFA and independent of the State Department.
- The Ministerial on Religious Freedom, an annual event, established in 2018 by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.
- The Commission on Unalienable Rights, established in 2019 by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.
- The International Religious Freedom Alliance, established in 2020 by Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.
1.3. The Office of International Religious Freedom and the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
1.4. Additions to International Religious Freedom Policy during the Trump Administration
2. The Commission on Unalienable Rights
USCIRF is very pleased that the State Department is continuing to make human rights an integral part of U.S. foreign policy and relations. We applaud the creation of this Commission as another way of ensuring that the protection of these fundamental rights—the most foundational of which is freedom of religion or belief—is a core element of strategic policy discussions.
- ‘demonstrate skepticism toward human rights treaties and institutions;
- assert the dubious claim that there are (sic.) a proliferation of human rights; and
- advance the idea that human rights are in need of prioritization or being placed into a hierarchy, conceivably with freedom of religion trumping other rights.’ (Huckerby and Knuckey 2020).
3. The Annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom
Our nation is so special and it’s the greatest nation in the history of civilization. … Our diplomats all around the world can be incredibly proud of the fact that they represent a nation that has God-given rights ensconced in our fundamental founding documents….
We’ve talked about religious freedom. We want to make sure every country has the understanding how central that is to their nation’s success and how they shouldn’t let a bureaucrat somewhere sitting in an international organization interfere with their country’s sovereign desire to allow their citizens to practice their—to practice religious freedom.
The Trump administration recognizes that religious freedom is a fundamental American liberty, and this has been clear from the administration’s earliest days and indeed the earliest days of our nation.The United States advances religious freedom in our foreign policy because it is not exclusively an American right. It is a God-given universal right bestowed on all of mankind. Seventy years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed this when 48 nations declared that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”.
4. The International Religious Freedom Alliance
And the people of the United States should know that the world looks to us as a beacon. They know that this is a special place. They know that God gave us this set of rights and our founders set this course in motion for this great experiment….
Trump hopes by shouting “Religious Freedom for All,” his political base will mistake the high decibel level for effectiveness. The gap between the rhetoric and the record is real. Only a new administration can bring any change.
Conflicts of Interest
- Afandi, Mohamed Salleh. 2011. The Christian Right and US Foreign Policy in the Twenty-First Century. Ph.D. Thesis, Durham University, Durham, UK. Available online: http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/669/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Altshuler, Glenn C. 2016. What Are ‘Judeo-christian’ Values? Analyzing a Controversial Term. Washington Jewish Week. December 1. Available online: http://washingtonjewishweek.com/34907/judeo-christian-values/news/national-news/ (accessed on 13 April 2017).
- Banks, Adele. 2020. 27 Countries Join International Religious Freedom Alliance. Christianity Today. February 7. Available online: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/february/international-religious-freedom-alliance-pompeo-brownback.html (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Barker, Jeremy. 2020. Advancing Religious Freedom for all Requires a Multi-Faceted, Global Effort. Real Clear Religion. June 19. Available online: https://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2020/06/19/advancing_religious_freedom_for_all_requires_a_multi-faceted_global_effort_496522.html (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Berkowitz, Peter. 2020. Pride, Humility, and America’s Dedication to Human Rights. Commentary, Real Clear Politics. June 7. Available online: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/06/07/pride_humility_and_americas_dedication_to_human_rights_143392.html (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Berschinksi, Rob, and Andréa Wordern. 2020. Pompeo’s Pompeo’s Commission on Unalienable Rights Looks to Be a ‘Win-Win for China’. Available online: https://www.justsecurity.org/69323/pompeos-commission-on-unalienable-rights-looks-to-be-a-win-win-for-china/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Bettiza, Gregorio. 2019. Finding Faith in Foreign Policy. Religion & American Diplomacy in a Postmodern World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Bob, Clifford. 2019a. Rights as Weapons Instruments of Conflict, Tools of Power. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Bob, Clifford. 2019b. Why trump’s new commission on unalienable rights is likely to upset the human rights community. The Monkey Cage, The Washington Post, June 6. [Google Scholar]
- Brammer, John Paul. 2018. Mike Pompeo still Opposes Gay Marriage. Now He’s about to Be Secretary of State. NBC News. April 12. Available online: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/mike-pompeo-still-opposes-gay-marriage-now-he-s-about-n865556 (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Bump, Philip. 2019. Trump Administration Fans Out to Defend Christianity across the Political Spectrum. The Washington Post. October 14. Available online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/10/14/trump-administration-fans-out-defend-christianity-across-political-spectrum/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Casey, Shaun. 2017. How the State Department Has Sidelined Religion’s Role in Diplomacy. Religion & Politics. September 5. Available online: https://religionandpolitics.org/2017/09/05/how-the-state-department-has-sidelined-religions-role-in-diplomacy/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Casey, Shaun. 2020. The Gap between Trump’s Record and Rhetoric on Religious Freedom. Sojourners. June 15. Available online: https://sojo.net/articles/gap-between-trumps-record-and-rhetoric-religious-freedom (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Casper, Jayson. 2019. From DC to Mecca, Should ‘Human Dignity’ Be the New ‘Religious Freedom’? Christianity Today. July 22. Available online: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/july/mecca-declaration-dignity-religious-freedom-ministerial-dc.html (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Chang, Semoon. 2006. The North Korean human rights act of 2004. North Korean Review 2: 80–88. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Commission on Unalienable Rights: Member Bios. n.d. Available online: https://www.state.gov/commission-on-unalienable-rights-member-bio (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Cooper, Melanie. 2015. The theology of emergency: Welfare reform, US foreign aid and the faith-based initiative. Theory, Culture and Society 32: 53–77. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Copson, Andrew. 2020. UK Signs Up to US-Led ‘International Religious Freedom Alliance’. Humanists UK. February 6. Available online: https://humanism.org.uk/2020/02/06/uk-signs-up-to-us-led-international-religious-freedom-alliance/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Dobson, James. 2019. James Dobson Responds to ‘Christianity Today’s’ Call for Trump Removal. AL.com Alabama. December 23. Available online: https://www.al.com/news/2019/12/dr-james-dobson-responds-to-christianity-todays-call-for-trump-removal.html (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Dobson, James. 2020. Focus on the Family. Interview with Mike Pompeo. June 11. Available online: https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-with-dr-james-dobson-of-family-talk-with-james-dobson/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Farr, Thomas. 2008. World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Ford, Liz. 2019. US Accused of Trying to Dilute Global Agreements on Women’s Rights. The Guardian. March 18. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/mar/18/us-accused-of-trying-to-dilute-international-agreements-un-commission-status-of-women (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Fox, Jonathan. 2016. The Unfree Exercise of Religion. A World Survey of Discrimination against Religious Minorities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. [Google Scholar]
- FP Editors. 2019. What Trump Promised Duda. June 13. Available online: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/06/13/what-trump-promised-duda/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Frequently Asked Questions. 2020. Available online: https://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/frequently-asked-questions (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Gevisser, Mark. 2020. The Pink Line: The World’s Queer Frontiers. London: Profile Books. [Google Scholar]
- Glendon, Mary Ann. 2010. God and Mrs Roosevelt. First Things. May 15. Available online: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2010/05/god-and-mrs-roosevelt (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Green, John C., Mark J. Rozell, and Clyde Wilcox, eds. 2003. The Christian Right in American Politics: Marching to the Millennium. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Grim, Brian. 2020. Religious Freedom and LGBT Rights. Do They Have Common Ground? Annapolis: Religious Freedom & Business Foundation. [Google Scholar]
- Haynes, Jeffrey. 2008. Religion and a human rights culture in America. The Review of Faith & International Affairs 6: 73–82. [Google Scholar]
- Haynes, Jeffrey. 2017. Donald trump, ‘judeo-christian values,’ and the ‘clash of civilizations’. The Review of Faith & International Affairs 15: 66–75. [Google Scholar]
- Haynes, Jeffrey. 2019. From Huntington to Trump. Thirty Years of the Clash of Civilizations. Lanham/Boulder/New York/London: Lexington Books. [Google Scholar]
- Hertzke, Allen. 2006. Freeing God’s Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights. New York: Rowman and Littlefield. [Google Scholar]
- Huckerby, Jane, and Sarah Knuckey. 2020a. Pompeo’s Rights Commission is Worse Than Feared: Part I. Just Security. March 13. Available online: https://www.justsecurity.org/69150/pompeos-rights-commission-is-worse-than-feared-part-i/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Human Rights First. 2020. Human Rights First HRF Concern Regarding Commission on Unalienable Rights. Human Rights First. April 14. Available online: https://www.humanrightsfirst.org/press-release/hrf-concern-regarding-commission-unalienable-rights (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Human Rights Watch. 2020. Prepared Testimony to Commission on ‘Unalienable’ Rights. Statement by Kenneth Roth. Human Rights Watch Executive Director. January 10. Available online: https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/10/prepared-testimony-commission-unalienable-rights (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Hurd, Elizabeth Shakman. 2015. Beyond Religious Freedom. The New Global Politics of Religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press. [Google Scholar]
- Jews for a Secular Democracy. 2019. Why ‘Judeo-Christian’ Values Are Problematic. Available online: https://jfasd.org/2019/10/why-judeo-christian-values-are-problematic/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Joustra, Robert. 2016. Is the problem really religious freedom? The Review of Faith & International Affairs 14: 129–33. [Google Scholar]
- Lobasz, Jennifer K. 2019. Contemporary Approaches to Human Trafficking. In Constructing Human Trafficking. Human Rights Interventions. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan. [Google Scholar]
- Marsden, Lee. 2020. International religious freedom promotion and US Foreign Policy. Religions 11: 260. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Mary Ann Glendon. 2020. Equity Forward. Available online: https://equityfwd.org/mary-ann-glendon (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- May, Clifford D. 2019. The trouble with religious freedom. Israel Hayom. November 28. Available online: https://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/the-trouble-with-religious-freedom/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- McAlister, Melani. 2019. American evangelicals, the changing global religious environment, and foreign policy activism. The Review of Faith and International Affairs 17: 1–12. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. 2018. Available online: https://www.state.gov/2018-ministerial-to-advance-religious-freedom/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Montgomery, Peter. 2020. Mike Pompeo Says Unalienable Rights Commission Will Return Human Rights Policy to ‘Judeo-Christian Tradition on Which This Country Was Founded’. Right Wing Watch. April 13. Available online: https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/mike-pompeo-says-unalienable-rights-commission-will-return-human-rights-policy-to-judeo-christian-tradition-on-which-this-country-was-founded/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Morello, Carol. 2019. State Department Launches Panel Focused on Human Rights and Natural Law. The Washington Post. July 8. Available online: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/state-department-to-name-panel-focused-on-human-rights-and-natural-law/2019/07/06/3bfe001e-9f54-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- OIRF (Office of International Religious Freedom). 2018. 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom. Available online: https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-report-on-international-religious-freedom/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Pandey, Pawan. 2020. USCIRF: Exposing the Hypocrisy. Available online: https://pawanpandey.in/2020/04/29/uscirf-report-exposing-the-hypocrisy/ (accessed on 20 June 2020).
- Peaceful Coexistence. 2016. Peaceful Coexistence Reconciling Nondiscrimination Principles with Civil Liberties. A Briefing before The United States Commission on Civil Rights Held in Washington, DC. Briefing Report. Available online: https://www.usccr.gov/pubs/docs/Peaceful-Coexistence-09-07-16.PDF (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Pew Research Center. 2019. Race in America 2019. Available online: https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2019/04/09/race-in-america-2019/ (accessed on 14 July 2020).
- Philpott, Daniel. 2020. Ignore the Optics. Trump’s Executive Order Could Jump-Start the Cause of Global Religious Freedom, America. The Jesuit Review. June 9. Available online: https://www.americamagazine.org/politics-society/2020/06/09/trump-executive-order-global-religious-freedom (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Pompeo, Michael R. 2018. Remarks at the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Washington D.C. July 26. Available online: https://www.state.gov/remarks-at-the-ministerial-to-advance-religious-freedom/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Pompeo, Michael R. 2019. Unalienable rights and U.S. Foreign Policy: The Founders’ Principles Can Help Revitalize Liberal Democracy World-Wide. Wall Street Journal. July 7. Available online: https://www.state.gov/unalienable-rights-and-u-s-foreign-policy-the-founders-principles-can-help-revitalize-liberal-democracy-world-wide/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Pompeo, Michael R. 2020. Secretary Michael R. Pompeo on the Release of the 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices; Washington, DC: Remarks to the Press, March 11. Available online: https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-on-the-release-of-the-2019-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Pompeo, Michael R., and Samuel Brownback. 2019. Press Availability on the Release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report. News Break. June 10. Available online: https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-at-a-press-availability-on-the-release-of-the-2019-international-religious-freedom-report/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Posner, Eric. 2019. The Human Rights Wars Heat Up! June 7. Available online: http://ericposner.com/the-human-rights-wars-heat-up/ (accessed on 20 June 2020).
- Risse, Matthias. 2020. On American values, unalienable rights, and human rights: Some reflections on the pompeo commission. Ethics & International Affairs 34: 1–19. [Google Scholar]
- Roth, Kenneth. 2019. Beware the Trump Administration’s Plans for ‘Fresh Thinking’ on Human Rights. The Washington Post. July 11. Available online: www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/7/11/beware-trumpadministrations-plans-fresh-thinking-human-rights/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Rutten, Tim. 2010. A Troubling Order for the Catholic Church. The Los Angeles Times. March 31. Available online: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-mar-31-la-oe-rutten31-2010mar31-story.html (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Schake, Kori. 2017. Religious Bias Is Distorting American Foreign Policy. The Administration Is Imperiling the very Minority Communities It Claims to Want to Protect. The Atlantic. December 13. Available online: https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/12/middle-east-christians-vp-pence/548216/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Schmitt, Alexandra. 2019. 5 Questions about the Commission on Unalienable Rights. Washington, DC: Center for American Progress, October 31, Available online: https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/security/news/2019/10/31/476632/5-questions-commission-unalienable-rights/ (accessed on 20 June 2020).
- Schor, Elana. 2020. Trump Puts Global Religious Freedom in the Political Fray. The Seattle Times. February 6. Available online: https://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/nation/trump-puts-global-religious-freedom-in-the-political-fray/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- Schwartz, Matthias. 2019. The ‘Religious Freedom’ Agenda. Trump-Administration Officials Are Using a Two-Word Phrase as a Rhetorical Swiss Army Knife on the World Stage. The Atlantic. July 16. Available online: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/07/trump-administration-religious-freedom/594040/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo Remarks to the Press. 2019 July 8. Available online: https://www.state.gov/secretary-of-state-michael-r-pompeo-remarks-to-the-press-3/ (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Sherratt, Timothy. 2019. The Religious Problem with Religious Freedom. The Review of Faith & International Affairs 17: 119–21. [Google Scholar]
- Srinivasan, Sharath. 2014. Negotiating violence: Sudan’s peacemakers and the war in Darfur. African Affairs 113: 24–44. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
- Stewart, Katherine. 2020. The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism. London: Bloomsbury. [Google Scholar]
- Taylor, David. 2019. Project Blitz: The Legislative Assault by Christian Nationalists to Reshape America. The Guardian. June 4. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/04/project-blitz-the-legislative-assault-by-christian-nationalists-to-reshape-america (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Tóibín, Colm. 2020. Review of Mark Gevisser’s The Pink Line. The Guardian. June 20. Available online: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jun/20/the-pink-line-by-mark-gevisser-review-the-worlds-queer-frontiers (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Tony Perkins Elected. 2019. Tony Perkins Elected Chair of Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Available online: https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases-statements/tony-perkins-elected-chair-bipartisan-us-commission (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Tony Perkins. n.d. Southern Poverty Law Center. Available online: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/tony-perkins (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- U.S.-Poland Joint Statement on Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. 2020. U.S.-Poland Joint Statement on Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Media Note. February 5. Available online: https://www.state.gov/u-s-poland-joint-statement-on-ministerial-to-advance-religious-freedom/ (accessed on 23 June 2020).
- USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom). 2020. India, USCIRF–Recommended for Countries of Particular Concern (CPC): 20–22. Available online: https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/India.pdf (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- USCIRF Statement. 2019. USCIRF Statement on State Department’s Creation of ‘Commission on Unalienable Rights’. Available online: https://www.uscirf.gov/news-room/press-releases-statements/uscirf-statement-state-department-s-creation-commission (accessed on 24 June 2020).
- Verma, Pranshu. 2020. Pompeo’s human rights panel could hurt L.G.B.T. and women’s rights, critics say. The New York Times, June 23. [Google Scholar]
IRFA aims ‘To condemn violations of religious freedom, and to promote, and to assist other governments in the promotion of, the fundamental right to freedom of religion.’ (https://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?path=/prelim@title22/chapter73&edition=prelim).
Roosevelt served as First Lady of the United States from 4 March 1933 to 12 April 1945, during her husband President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office. She was the longest-serving First Lady of the United States. Roosevelt was chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, instrumental in the creation of the UDHR. Roosevelt was a lifelong Protestant Christian, a member of the Episcopalian church, and regularly attended church services (Glendon 2010).
In 1999, Tom Farr became the first director of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. Currently (July 2020), he is president of the Religious Freedom Institute, an NGO working to achieve worldwide acceptance of religious freedom.
Martin Castro, appointed by President Obama to chair the US Commission on Civil Rights, writes that religious freedom is often used as a “code word” for “discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia,” and “Christian supremacy” (Peaceful Coexistence 2016, p. 30).
‘Jews for a Secular Democracy is a pluralistic initiative of the Society for Humanistic Judaism’ (https://jfasd.org/2019/10/why-judeo-christian-values-are-problematic/).
James Dobson, founder and head of Focus on the Family, is a strong supporter of President Trump (Dobson 2019). Dobson is also a friend and ideological ally of Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. See Dobson’s 2020 interview with Pompeo at https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-with-dr-james-dobson-of-family-talk-with-james-dobson/ We refer to this interview in the conclusion of this article.
The American Enterprise Institute describes itself as: “a public policy think tank dedicated to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world”. (https://www.aei.org/about/).
For details, see USCIRF’s annual reports at: https://www.uscirf.gov/reports-briefs/annual-report).
In addition, there was the Office of Religion and Global Affairs (RGA), established in 2013 during the Obama presidency. In August 2017, the then Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, announced that the RGA was to be absorbed into the OIRF. (Bettiza 2019, p. 224).
At the time of writing (July 2020), the Commission comprised eight commissioners, following the resignations of former chair Tenzin Dorjee (May 2020), Kristina Arriaga de Bucholz (November 2019) and Andy Khawaja (December 2019). Details of USCIRF commissioners at https://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/commissioners.
Perkins claims that pedophilia is a ‘homosexual problem’ and LGBTQ activists want to ‘destroy’ America (Tony Perkins n.d.). The then vice-chair of USCIR, Gayle Manchin, was elected chair of USCIRF by her fellow commissioners in June 2020, replacing Perkins. Perkins was elected as a vice-chair, as was Anurima Bhargava. The term of office for Manchin, Perkins and Bhargava was June 2020 to June 2021.
Casey is currently (July 2020) Director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.
According to Rutten (2010), Glendon is a ‘conservative Catholic… who refused to accept an award from Notre Dame [University] because it invited President Obama to speak at its commencement’. (https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-mar-31-la-oe-rutten31-2010mar31-story.html). Glendon garnered controversy for statements like The Boston Globe’s receiving the Pulitzer Prize for its investigation into child abuse by priests “would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden.” (Verma 2020).
Swett was USCIRF chair, 2012–2016.
According to Equity Forward, a human rights advocacy group, ‘Soloveichik is an orthodox rabbi and professor of Judaic studies at Yeshiva University. He has ties to influential anti-abortion and anti-birth control groups including the Becket Fund for religious Liberty and the Witherspoon Institute. Soloveichik has repeatedly argued against Affordable Health Care Act’s birth control benefit and opposes marriage same-sex couples [and] individuals’ (https://equityfwd.org/meir-soloveichik).
Professor Mary Ann Glendon, Dr Jacqueline Rivers, and Dr Katrina Lantos Swett.
Dr. David Tse-Chien Pan, Professor of German at the University of California, Irvine and Dr. Jacqueline Rivers, Lecturer in Sociology at Harvard University. Rivers believes that ‘marriage is a gift from God’ and that ‘sexual partnerships between persons of the same sex are being legally recognized as “marriages,” thus abolishing in law the principle of marriage as a conjugal union and reducing it to nothing other than sexual or romantic companionship’. (https://insidethevatican.com/magazine/people/eugene-jacqueline-rivers-scholar-protestant-minister/).
The Commission’s draft report was released on 16 July 2020. It is available at https://www.state.gov/draft-report-of-the-commission-on-unalienable-rights/.
‘At RealClearPolitics (RCP) we’re dedicated to providing our readers with better, more insightful analysis of the most important news and policy issues of the day. RCP’s daily editorial curation and original reporting present balanced, non-partisan analysis that empowers our readers to stay informed’ (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/about.html).
The Declaration of Independence refers to “unalienable rights” with which people “are endowed by their Creator”.
A letter, critical of the Commission, and signed by 167 human rights groups, was published in May 2020. They wrote ‘to express [their] grave concern about the work of the U.S. State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights and any potential report or output that undermines the international human rights system and purports to reinterpret its respective treaties and monitoring bodies’. Letter available at https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/supporting_resources/050120_lettertocour_crr_hrw_iwhc.pdf. Also see (Berschinksi and Wordern 2020).
Founding members of IRFA: Albania, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, The Gambia, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, The Netherlands, Poland, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Togo, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
All member states are Christian, except: Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, The Gambia, Israel, and Senegal. This suggests that criteria for membership are two-fold: religious affiliation and whether a country is a U.S. ally.
Despite Copson’s concern, however, neither Brazil, Hungary, or Poland are included in the 28 “countries of concern” in USCIRF’s 2019 (https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2019USCIRFAnnualReport.pdf).
Alliance members identified as having ongoing religious freedom issues in the State Department’s 2018 annual report are Hungary, led by a far-right government, and Austria (OIRF 2018).
“GAI seeks to measure the relative level of social acceptance of LGBT people and rights in each country at specific time periods”. “GRI assesses the level of restrictions on religion by governments around the world” (Grim 2020, p. 11). “SHI measures hostile acts by private individuals, organizations and social groups that restrict religious beliefs and practices” (https://www.pewforum.org/2011/08/09/rising-restrictions-on-religion4/).
|Country||Global Acceptance Index (GAI), 2014–2017 (Higher the Better)||Government Religious Restrictions Index (GRI), 2017 (Lower the Better)||Social Hostilities Index (SHI) (Lower the Better)|
|Bosnia & Herzegovina||3.1||2.9||3.2|
© 2020 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Haynes, J. Trump and the Politics of International Religious Freedom. Religions 2020, 11, 385. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080385
Haynes J. Trump and the Politics of International Religious Freedom. Religions. 2020; 11(8):385. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080385Chicago/Turabian Style
Haynes, Jeffrey. 2020. "Trump and the Politics of International Religious Freedom" Religions 11, no. 8: 385. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11080385