President Trump took another step in advancing religious freedom for all people when he hosted a religious freedom summit on Sept. 23 in New York instead of attending a climate change summit with other world leaders. Evangelical leaders applauded his decision, and one said it took ‘real guts’ for him to do so. The president stepped into the climate change summit for a short visit, then proceeded to the religious freedom summit.
The president’s appearance at the United Nations Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom summit was also a step into the pages of history.
“Today, it is my true honor to be the first president of the United States to host a meeting at the United Nations on religious freedom,” the president said. “Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.”
The president mentioned that 11 Christians are killed every day for practicing their religion, with “approximately 80 percent of the world’s population” denied freedom of religion.
“This is the first time any leader of a nation has addressed the U.N. on religious persecution,” said Pastor Robert Jeffress to Fox News. A third of the world is living under religious persecution … and it is a remarkable thing that this president would skip a U.N. climate change summit on an imaginary problem to address the very real problem of global persecution of believers,” said Jeffress, of the Dallas, Texas First Baptist Church, reported the Daily Caller.
“What president in history would have the guts to do what President Trump is doing? It is the kind of leadership that is absolutely infuriating the president’s enemies,” said Jeffress.
Family Research Council (FRC) President Tony Perkins, who is also in charge of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said, “I commend the president for taking on an issue that impacts people’s lives today, and the results can actually be measured. “
“The Democrats believe the great human right that transcends all others is the right to kill your own babies through abortion. This president says no, it’s not the murder of babies that is a basic human right; it is religious liberty that is granted by our creator,” said Jeffress.
During his speech, Trump also announced an additional $25 million in funding “to protect religious freedom, sites, and relics.”
The president previously met with 27 victims of religious persecution at the White House on Wednesday, July 17. It was part of an effort to effect change toward religious freedom in countries where it is not an option. The president told them, “Each of you has suffered tremendously for your faith.”
Yuhua Zhang, 59, a former professor at Nanjing Normal University in China was arrested by the communist regime, imprisoned, and tortured for seven years for her refusal to give up her faith.
As a Falun Gong practitioner, Zhang is one of the hundreds of thousands that are given similar treatment in China’s chain of prisons. Many lose their lives either through torture or are murdered for their organs, which sell on-demand to wealthy Chinese or Westerners willing to pay the price. Zhang was able to escape to the United States four years ago. However, her husband Zhengyu Ma has been in Suzhou Prison for three years, and Zhang has had no word from him since 2017.
Falun Gong, an ancient meditation practice brought to the public by Li Hongzhi in China and taught free of charge, had an estimated 70 million to 100 million followers in China before 1999, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center. The communist regime began its crackdown on the practice on July 20, 1999, almost 20 years to the day of the historic meeting of the victims of religious persecution with President Trump at the White House.