President Trump led an unprecedented summit on religious freedom at the United Nations today. There were members of the ACLJ team in attendance.
On today’s Jay Sekulow Live, we discussed President Trump hosting this event at the United Nations, what it means for persecuted Christians around the world, and some of the cases we are and have been working on.
It is amazing and unprecedented that President Trump would be hosting his own event at the United Nations in New York, focusing solely on the issue of religious persecution. It follows and furthers the work the ACLJ has recently done at the U.N. in Geneva and in New York.
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During his introduction of President Trump, Vice President Pence referenced the persecution of Christians in China: “The communist party in China has arrested Christian pastors, banned the sale of Bibles, demolished churches….”
That was an important reference as Pastor John Cao remains imprisoned in China, now for over two and a half years. The only reason – his faith in Jesus. He was living out his faith, helping people.
We at the ACLJ are working diligently to free him.
With us today is Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey for a long period of time. Last year, my administration was thrilled to bring him back home after a very short and respectful negotiation with a very strong man, and a man that’s become a friend of mine, fortunately, President Erdogan of Turkey. I called the President, I said he’s an innocent man, they’ve been trying to get Andrew out for a long time, previous administration. I don’t think they tried too hard, unfortunately. But I want to thank President Erdogan, and I want to thank you Pastor, for being here with us today.
The President also correctly pointed out the enormous problem that exists around the world for Christians.
Regrettably, the religious freedom enjoyed by American citizens is rare in the world. Approximately 80% of the world’s population live in countries where religious liberty is threatened, restricted, or even banned. And when I heard that number, I said please go back and check it, because it can’t possibly be correct. And sadly, it was. 80%.
The fact that the President is shining a light on this is good news for the persecuted. We have personally experienced the difference an Administration can make in these cases. The previous Administration was very hard to work with on these issues and really did not engage this issue. In Jordan’s new book, The Next Red Wave, (out tomorrow) he talks about how the previous administration would engage in hashtag diplomacy, but not much else.
In order to free Pastor Brunson, the U.S. government put sanctions on Turkey, which was an enormous step and something that the previous Administration had not acted on. It worked. Pastor Brunson is free.
We do need to be mindful that Pastor Cao, Leah Sharibu, and others are not free and need help. We won’t rest until they are released, and it looks like the U.S. government is now a worthy partner in the cause to protect Christians all around the world from persecution.
You can listen to the entire episode here.
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