Just hours after introducing a resolution to the U.S. Senate, Senator James Lankford [R-OK] addressed the .
His message was simple: It’s time for the United States to take action.
“Sometimes we assume that the rest of the world is dealing with religious liberties like we do,” Lankford said. “In most of the world, if you don’t have the chosen faith of the government, they will silence you in whatever way they can.”
The resolution serves as a wake-up call to U.S. politicians, specifically in ways they can use trade agreements as leverage for enforcing religious freedom around the globe.
“The resolution calls for the administration to pay attention to that and to engage in state department policy,” Lankford said. “The administration has sanctions authority for individuals who are in violation of human rights indignities and this is a reminder to use those tools.”
This is another step in moving the needle on impacting worldwide religious freedom. In December, President Obama signed an International Freedom Act into law. It requires foreign service workers to receive training in religious freedom, and elevating the position of ambassador-at-large for religious freedom within the State Department.
An ambassador-at-large has not been hired yet, but Lankford said the Trump Administration is completely on board in protecting religious freedoms. Last Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that protects religious liberties in the United States. The position has been elevated in stature to report directly to the Secretary of State.
“We will appoint an ambassador-at-large for religious liberty,” Lankford said. “They’ve given us their assurances on that. We’ve met with several people already and are doing our due process.”
A himself, Lankford sites non-partisan research as one reason why he’s taken up this important fight for his brothers and sisters. His personal faith is another driving force.
“When you look at the pew research, when you look at worldwide what’s happening, the Christian groups are the most persecuted groups around the world,” Lankford spoke to the media after addressing the World Summit. “After that are the Muslims and after that the Jewish groups.
Estimates indicate more than 215 million people in the 50 most persecuted Christian countries experience “high, very high or extremely high persecution.
“We’re losing ground. We would hope to be gaining ground. That basic thing that is so American that we assume is international as well is actually drifting away.
Thursday’s resolution, if passed, will be another step to make a difference in countries where simply claiming the name of Jesus makes you a target.
“When things are violated, we can actually take action. Not just watch it and say there’s nothing we can do. There are things we can do.”
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