With the backdrop of most media calling the US President a racist, Donald Trump held a conference in the White House regarding religious liberty. But this was not just about Christians under persecution at home in the US. Rather, this was a move to protect the religious liberties of all religious groups in all regions of the world. President Trump was accompanied by several dozen people from Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, Jewish and many other religious groups that are under persecution in various countries all around the world: China, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Eritrea, and many other places.
The President started the session with a number of remarks on the problem of religious persecution around the world, with the guests surrounding him as the backdrop. We have see this countless times with many leading politicians who give stage time to those who support a particular agenda. But, at least in Obama’s days, those people remained nameless and faceless, and voiceless, as President Obama spoke his interpretation of their case.
This was quite different. The President read a prepared statement that ran for only a little over two minutes before segueing into thanking everyone there for being there. Assisting the President was former Kansas Governor and now the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. Now, to be sure, we have a lot of problems with how politics and religious identity have been scrambled in very bad ways by Americans, Brownback being no exception, in Ukraine.
However, this event describes something unexpected, perhaps. After the President’s remarks, almost everyone who wanted to say something directly to the President about their personal experiences did so. The camera caught every bit of it. Two particularly endearing scenarios begin at [14:23], with a woman from Nigeria. The connection the President made was palpable:
And as we can see, everyone in the room was very tuned in to the discussion. Then, a Yazidi woman who was held as a sex-slave by ISIS forces, later escaping, spoke. This may be of particular importance because of what she said, starting from timestamp [15:47]. We include a direct link to that point below.
She said that although it is said that ISIS is defeated, there are still 3,000 Yazidi women captive and no one knows their fate. She further said that the Iraqi and Kurd governments / forces are now fighting over the ownership of the Yazidi territory, making it still impossible for the Yazidi people to return to their homeland.
As we know, the clarion call of “ISIS has been wiped out!” is a major feature of President Trump’s rhetoric and political speechmaking. Yet, he was undisturbed by this because he did not take it as an affront to his narrative, but as information to be worked with.
This video is long, about twenty-four and a half minutes. And every moment of it is extremely well-worth watching.
Religious people are generally quite honest about things. They are also usually very courageous. This was on display in abundance at this meeting.
(There are, of course, those that hide behind religious identity to work their political and personal drives for power and influence. We have seen that extensively in Ukraine and certainly can and should continue to be critical of this.)
However, this event revealed something about the viewpoint of many Americans, as exemplified in their president here. Most Americans do not understand religious views other than their own with much depth. In fact, it might even be said that most Americans of any particular religious confession do not understand their own confession at great depth, but they understand that it is important to them to be who they are. This also speaks to the idea that other people have the right to be who they are.
This meeting was about upholding that liberty – to worship God as one understands Him, without interference or persecution from people who believe differently, or who just do not like you. President Trump showed several things here:
- He is absolutely not racist. The interaction he had here was with people and he saw them no differently than he sees himself.
- He displayed a characteristic that is common among truly Christian leaders – the desire to let those of different faiths be free to pursue those, and no coercion to convert or die
- The recognition that all people are God’s children, and there is no one intrinsically better or worse than anyone else.
Naturally, we can expect mainstream media to ignore this. This video is inconveniently long and without soundbites, so the usual “racist!!” accusation will continue to blaze across most of the headlines of our days in regards to President Trump.
But for anyone who wants to see the truth and to understand who Donald Trump is, watch this video. Watch all of it. Not all things can be encapsulated in a ten-second soundbite or a 140-character text message. One has to see and experience things firsthand, and then evaluate it.
We can disagree about theology, and we should. There is no place for a “one-world” religion. At the same time, the efforts to bring souls to the Light is not helped by killing and imprisoning those who will not comply to another’s code, and this is a truth that seems to be uniquely understood by Christians. It may be by those in other religious identities as well. Certainly in the group assembled for this presentation, there was no sense of either animus between religious people, but there was no loss of uniqueness, either, Each person that spoke did so personally, honestly and deeply. These three qualities are worth protecting, and it is from this perspective that Mr. Trump operates.