It’s often easy for Americans to take religious freedom for granted. We sometimes forget that, despite the attacks on Christianity seen in the US, the right to exercise our beliefs safe from persecution is far more secure here than in much of the wider world. Still, whether it’s Vietnam, China, or even the United States, there are and likely will always be those both in and out of the government who would impose their own will upon others, no matter how unwelcome.
In a hearing titled “The Dire State of Religious Freedom Around the World,” the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organization heard testimony from several expert witnesses. Speaking before the subcommittee were Rabbi Abraham Cooper, chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom; Eric Patterson, Ph.D., president of the Religious Freedom Institute; Reverend Susan Hayward, associate director of Harvard Divinity School’s Religion and Public Life Program; and the Honorable Rashad Hussain, ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom for the US Department of State.
The Usual Suspects
The hearing highlighted several countries around the world where religious freedom is, as subcommittee chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) put it, “under serious assault.”
“Tragically, billions of people around the world – half of the world’s population – are not able to practice their faith freely,” Smith said. “Many are persecuted by oppressive governments or extremist groups – brutally attacked, tortured, jailed, and even slaughtered for their beliefs.”
The panel discussed the Chinese Communist Party’s genocide against Uyghur Muslims, as well as other crimes against believers in general. They spoke of Nigeria, where Smith said he saw “firsthand the aftermath of Boko Haram’s destruction of churches and mosques.” The Ortega regime in Nicaragua has engaged in brutal persecution of Catholics, as well.
In Vietnam, people have a constitutional right to religious freedom, but there’s a provision that says: “Human rights and citizen’s rights shall only be restricted in imperative circumstances for the reasons of national defense, national security, social order and security, social morality, and the health of the community.” In practice, the secular communist government restricts those rights almost entirely.
India suffers from ethno-religious nationalism, a political movement that separates people based on ethnic, cultural, and religious identity. The aggressive and often violent exclusivity of this movement makes violence not only inevitable but quite common.
The American Threat to Religious Freedom
It isn’t just the communist or openly socialist regimes that attempt to suppress or control religion, however. Much like Vietnam, the United States has, in practice, demonstrated a willingness to ignore the right to religious freedom – for the right reasons, of course. In America, those “right reasons” don’t look all that different from the exception clause in the Vietnam Constitution. Here, instead of terms like social order and security, social morality, and the health of the community, we have social justice, equity, and the soul of the nation.
Dr. Eric Patterson explained the inevitable conflict between communism and religion:
“Countries such as China and Vietnam espouse an officially Communist ideology that is intertwined with a nationalistic, or racial, hierarchy. The result is a totalitarian society where the government demands ultimate loyalty. By contrast, religious people seek ultimate meaning and organize their lives around a transcendent source that surpasses all human authority. That is why secular totalitarian governments view religion and religious people as threats that must be controlled, contained, and sometimes even eliminated.”
Democrats and the progressive left in America seem to exhibit that exact pattern of behavior. Radical leftist groups and individuals have tried to force American Christians to bend their beliefs through lawsuits and boycotts. Democrats – both in and out of Congress – push laws that would protect “gender-affirming” procedures for kids, grant a nationwide right to on-demand abortions, and force everyone to support essentially anything the LGBTQ community comes up with.
But they aren’t just doing it here. Dr. Patterson’s testimony included an entire section on “The Impact of the State Department and USAID Promoting Ideology.”
“My testimony would be incomplete if I failed to address the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development relentlessly pushing abortion and ‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ (SOGI) ideology under the banner of ‘LGBTQI+ rights,’ and the religious freedom implications for their personnel and globally,” Dr. Patterson wrote.
In February of 2021, President Biden released his “Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World.” As Dr. Patterson pointed out, requiring the State Department personnel to support or, at the very least, not speak out against SOGI ideology can be an infringement of those Americans’ religious freedom. The Biden administration’s directive, which must be followed by all executive departments, also globalizes SOGI ideology “through U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance,” something Pope Francis called “ideological colonization.” As Dr. Patterson pointed out in his testimony, some fear their nations will lose US foreign aid dollars unless they toe that ideological line.
The Biden administration’s State Department even requires any non-governmental organization hoping for grants to affirm SOGI premises in their submissions, effectively excluding and discriminating against any religious organization unwilling to corrupt its faith for money.
The threat faced by believers around the world from communist and socialist governments remains very real and deadly – but our own quasi-socialist regime doesn’t seem to see religion all that differently from its Chinese, Vietnamese, Nigerian, or Nicaraguan counterparts. The battle for religious freedom worldwide continues – but for which side does the Biden administration fight?
Liberty Nation Today:
Bidenomics Adds $1 Trillion to Debt in Three Months – Swamponomics - The national debt, stagflation, and beef. - Read Now!
ABC Poll Sends Democrats Into Orbit - As Yogi Berra used to say, it’s getting late early for Joe Biden. - Read Now!
Is Sending US Military Advisors to Ukraine a Good Idea? - The notion of sending Kyiv US on-the-ground trainers is growing. - Read Now!
Boston U Anti-Racism Center Blows $40 Million in Three Years - Nothing of substance produced and now a newspaper is investigating. - Read Now!
NFL to Bud Light: “Hold My Beer” - Some folks just refuse to learn from the mistakes of others. - Read Now!