If you read my court evangelical roundups, you know about Johnnie Moore, the Trump evangelical who likes to tout himself as a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer.” Moore champions the cause of global religious liberty. Here are some of his latest tweets:
Touched to receive so many regrets from Muslim friends around the world (especially from the UAE) regarding Erdogan’s inexcusable decision to convert the greatest church for a 1000 years
– the Hagia Sophia –
from a Museum for all back to a mosque, at the behest of Islamists.
— Rev. Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) July 10, 2020
Much news a/b China’s draconian takeover of Hong Kong, but one part of the story is not being reported — the threat to a vibrant Christian church in the city.
Many of the protestors have been Christians, & many of those courageous enough to continue (& be arrested), are too.
— Rev. Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) July 9, 2020
Moore loves Secretary of State’s Mike Pompeo’s emphasis on religious liberty around the world. He recently retweeted Pompeo:
Today, I designated three senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party in Xinjiang for gross violations of human rights, making them and their immediate family members ineligible for entry into the United States.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 9, 2020
On Friday, Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service reported that World Relief, an evangelical Christian relief agency, released a report on persecuted Christians and U.S. refugee settlement. Here is a taste of Jenkins’s piece:
Entitled “Closed Doors: Persecuted Christians and the U.S. Refugee Resettlement and Asylum Processes,” the report was prepared by World Relief and Open Doors USA — both organizations that work on issues of immigration and religious persecution.
Their findings focus on the Trump administration’s drastic cuts to the refugee resettlement program, which has long been run in partnership with several religious organizations — including World Relief, an evangelical Christian group. According to the report, there has been a 90% reduction since 2015 in the number of persecuted Christians resettled in the United States.
The report calls for the U.S. government to return to “at least a historically normal ceiling” for refugee resettlement, such as 95,000 refugees per year as recommended by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2019. In addition, the authors urge the Trump administration to reject proposed changes to existing immigration systems that would make it more difficult to attain asylum in the U.S.
The document implicitly calls into question Trump’s 2017 promise to assist persecuted Christians. When asked about the issue by the Christian Broadcasting Network, Trump said his administration would make responding to Christians fleeing persecution in Syria a priority.
“They’ve been horribly treated,” Trump said. He later added: “We are going to help them.”
Curry and Breene were careful not to criticize Trump directly during the call and pointed to instances where the Trump administration has taken some steps to assist persecuted religious minorities.
For example, Curry noted when Vice President Mike Pence personally intervened to dedicate U.S. Agency for International Development funds to better living conditions for religious minorities in northern Iraq. That move is part of a larger strategy aimed at improving the situation of persecuted Christians where they live instead of prioritizing refugee resettlement.
But when pressed about whether the Trump administration’s strategy tangibly benefited the lives of persecuted Christians in their countries of origin, Breene acknowledged that despite the government’s “good” intentions, “it’s very rare to see material progress.”
And even if conditions improve overseas, said Curry, Christians who have been displaced from their homes because of religious persecution still need help.
“This is a significant gaping hole in their strategy: that there are some people that are still in danger for their faith,” he said. “They’re not going to be able to move back home. If they could, they would.”
Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, called the data in the report “shocking.” Kim also expressed disappointment in the Trump administration’s refugee settlement policy.
The United States, he said, has “long (been) a beacon of hope for those fleeing religious persecution … We must change this policy and remain a leader for religious freedom.”
Read the entire piece here.
A few closing thoughts:
- So far, Moore has been silent about this report.
- Moore and other court evangelicals will need to figure out how they can support Trump’s immigration policies and still claim the president is a champion of religious freedom around the world.
- It is also worth noting that Moore has been silent on this.
- Walter Kim is the president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). Johnnie Moore is a member of the NAE board.