Right Opinion

U.S. Gets Off on the Wrong Foote With Zambia

Tony Perkins · Jan. 7, 2020

President Trump doesn’t share a lot of Barack Obama’s views — especially when it comes to the mission of the State Department. After eight years, it was obvious that the 44th president was more interested in domineering than diplomacy. Even now, pockets of his cultural imperialism live on, deep inside the agency that Trump has tried desperately to clean up.

With 75,000 employees, it’s taken almost Trump’s full first term to work his way through the bureaucrats dedicated to keeping the last administration’s legacy alive. Turns out, it’s not easy to dismantle an army of international lobbyists for radical sexuality, abortion, and other extreme social policies. But thankfully, this White House is determined to keep trying. And before Christmas, they made it pretty clear that they aren’t done yet.

After a tumultuous few months, the Trump team announced that it was recalling America’s ambassador to Zambia, who was asked to leave after insulting the country’s LGBT policies and judicial system. Calling the jailing of two men “horrifying,” Daniel Foote upset Zambian leaders who think America’s representative crossed a line when he called their beliefs “oppressive.” Exactly what mandate Foote was operating under remains unclear.

In a statement, the U.S. announced that it was bringing Foote home, making it clear that while America “firmly opposes abuses against LGBT persons,” it “remains committed to our partnership with the Zambian people.” It’s the Trump administration’s desire, the spokesperson went on, to have an “open and frank relationship of mutual respect…”

The move was a shocking contrast to the last administration, which not only ignored — but mocked — their host country’s beliefs in places like Latin America. In fact, Barack Obama’s efforts to radicalize other nations was so offensive that citizens of other nations openly celebrated when Donald Trump was elected. Like dozens of other countries on the receiving end of the president’s extreme social agenda, people in the Caribbean were under enormous pressure from the bullies at the State Department to abandon ship on their traditional Christian beliefs.

Sometimes that harassment came in the form of financial blackmail — threatening foreign aid if the leaders didn’t comply. Other times, it came in the form of publicly degrading locals’ beliefs about the family. But no matter how it arrived, the result was always the same: outrage that the United States — of all countries — should be browbeating the world into submission on issues that are still fiercely controversial in most of the world.

In 2017, shortly after he took office, Donald Trump received a letter from hundreds of pastors and church leaders in the Caribbean urging him to chart a new course for U.S. relations — one that doesn’t include an obvious disrespect for other nations’ values. It’s time, the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean writes, for the White House to stop using the State Department to impose their LGBT agenda on other countries. “‘Gay rights,’” they wrote, “are pre-empting human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience. We implore you urgently to review this matter, to revoke relevant executive orders and policies, and to thus to restore to ‘The City upon a Hill’ the bright beam that once shone from it.”

Three years in, that’s exactly what this administration has done. Recalling Foote is the right move when he has broken trust with his hosts and can no longer effectively serve as our representative overseas. It should also serve as an indicator of how we will act elsewhere. America respects everyone, but it won’t promote values that are inconsistent with what this president stands for.

Originally published here.

Miami Voice: Evangelicals Speak out in Florida

“I may not be perfect,” President Trump admitted, “but I get things done.” And for many voters, including evangelicals, that’s what matters. In fact, for the thousands of supporters packed into Miami’s Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesús last Friday, it was probably the best explanation yet for the strong bond between Christians and this White House. Unlike the media, who can’t seem to understand the appeal of this president to his most enthusiastic base, evangelicals would say it’s simple: promises made, promises kept. And they have three years of examples to prove it.

To the outside world, it’s a mystery. To conservatives, there’s nothing baffling about it. Donald Trump won the election by offering a contrast to the Left’s anti-faith, anti-family agenda. But he’s won respect by acting on it. And the flocks of faithful pouring into his rallies appreciate that. “There are plenty of evangelical Americans who maybe didn’t support President Trump in [2016] because they didn’t believe he was a true ally,” one campaign official pointed out. But those same people, he went on, “are now taking a second look at him because of his record.”

It’s that record, the one President Trump touted for the better part of 75 minutes, that the throngs of people jammed into the Florida megachurch stood and cheered. When he tweeted, in classic Trump fashion, that no president had ever done more for Christians than his administration, it was true. From the unborn to judges, international religious freedom to Israel, this White House has earned the support it’s getting.

Christians, the president repeated, “have never had a greater champion — not even close — than you have in the White House right now. Look at the record,” Trump urged. “We’ve done things that nobody thought was possible. We’re not only defending our constitutional rights, we’re also defending religion itself, which is under siege.” That’s important, he argued, because “America was not built by religion-hating socialists. America was built by churchgoing, God-worshiping, freedom-loving patriots.”

And those patriots, President Trump insisted, are the ones being attacked. “Faith-based schools, charities, hospitals, adoption agencies, pastors were systematically targeted by federal bureaucrats and ordered to stop following their beliefs,” he pointed out. That all changed when his teams at HHS, Justice, and Education got involved rolling back the waves of hostility aimed directly at men and women of faith. “The day I was sworn in, the federal government’s war on religion came to an abrupt end,” he said. “My administration will never stop fighting for Americans of faith,” Trump vowed. “We will restore the faith as the true foundation of American life.”

Maybe that, as Pastor Jentezen Franklin prayed, is what believers appreciate most about this administration. “…America didn’t need a preacher in the Oval Office,” he said, bowing his head. “It did not need a professional politician in the Oval Office. But it needed a fighter and a champion for freedom. Lord, that is exactly what we have.” And more than that, I thought, as I watched pastors lay their hands on the president, we have a fighter who isn’t ashamed of the people he’s fighting for. After all, when was the last time you saw a president of the United States from either party surrounded by faith leaders in a completely public and unscripted prayer? It’s rare, I assure you.

That comfort level is what’s helped to create a real and honest connection with evangelicals. While others, even some Republicans, seem embarrassed by what Christians stand for, Trump’s adamance stands out.

“We will not allow faithful Americans to be bullied by the far Left,” he insisted to roaring applause. “We’re not going to allow it…” There are those, he pointed out, “who say these sacred beliefs are outdated. But we know they are just the opposite. Our traditions and our values are timeless and immortal. [The political Left doesn’t] know what they are missing. Our faith is needed now more than ever.”

Those aren’t exactly views his 2020 opposition shares. Trump did more than hint at the contrast, reminding the crowd that “every Democrat candidate running for president is trying to punish religious believers and silence our churches and our pastors. Our opponents want to shut out God from the public square so they can impose their extreme anti-religious and socialist agenda on America.” If conservatives stop them, he believes, it will be because the country’s faithful got involved.

“In 2016, evangelical Christians went out and helped us in numbers never seen before… I really believe we have God on our side… or there would have been no way that we could have won,” Trump told the crowd. “People say, ‘How do you win? You don’t have the media. You have so many things against you.’ And we win. So there has to be something.”

For more on the Trump administration’s record, don’t miss FRC Action’s new 2017-19 overview, available here.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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