President Donald Trump, addressing the audience at a United Nations event on religious freedom, criticized world leaders for espousing diversity and inclusion while “shunning or silencing” people of faith, Fox News informed.
“Too often people in power preach diversity, while shunning or silencing the faithful,” Trump said. “True tolerance means respecting the rights of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs.”
While Trump did not specifically mention individual nations, Vice President Pence – who spoke before the President – blasted several countries for religious freedom attacks, including China’s persecution of ethnic Uyghur Muslims, Venezuela’s contested leader Nicolas Maduro’s anti-Semitic rhetoric and Iran’s oppression of Christians, Jews and Sunni Muslims.
Trump – who was joined on stage by Pence, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other world leaders – also announced that his administration was allocating additional $25 million to protect religious freedom as well as religious sites and clerics, and launching an initiative with business leaders to protect religious freedom in the workplace.
“This institution will engage the private sector to protect people of all faiths in the workplace,” he said.
Religious freedom was one of Trump’s key hallmarks in his push for greater protections to religious groups as they helped him win the presidency bid in 2016.
Pastors praised Trump’s attention to the issue Monday.
“This is the first time any leader of a nation has addressed the U.N. on religious persecution,” Robert Jeffress told ”Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt.
During his speech on Monday, the President touted his administration’s work in securing the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was imprisoned in Turkey for over two years.
The President was also accused of hypocrisy on the religious freedom issue, regarding policies toward Muslims. Trump signed an executive order in 2017 that banned entry of nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries into U.S. for 90 days, banned the entry of all refugees for 120 days, and indefinitely banned the entry of all Syrian refugees.
“The Proclamation is expressly premised on legitimate purposes: preventing entry of nationals who cannot be adequately vetted and inducing other nations to improve their practices,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. “The text says nothing about religion.”
The President’s speech on religious freedom this week also drew controversy when it was reported that he was skipping a U.N. event on climate change to make his speech.
Trump, however, did make a brief stop at the U.N. Climate Action Summit on Monday, where he sat next to Vice President Pence as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was on stage and stayed through German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech. Overall, it was reported by The Hill that Trump spent 10 to 15 minutes at the climate change event.