Secretary Of Defense Mike Pompeo’s Recent Statements Seem Hollow
President Trump’s summit with Russia is continuing to have fallout. First, Trump has been accused of being silent about Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections. Now, it seems like the United States may be continuing a pattern of silence with Russia. This time it is over religion.
Russia has banned Jehovah’s Witnesses from the country, arrested Muslims, and infiltrated religious groups at home and abroad. The United States decided not to put Russia on a list of countries that are of particular concern for religious freedom. The State Department’s decision went against the recommendation of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has announced the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom that will involve 80 countries discussing religious freedom. Pompeo has not stated if Russia will be invited to the program. It may be challenging to bring Russia into the meeting when it was revealed that a Russia national who attended the National Prayer Breakfast used it as an opportunity to develop contacts for the Russian government, possibly as part of an espionage strategy. This matches reports that Russian agents have tried to infiltrate religious groups in the United States.
It remains unclear what steps the State Department will take on religious rights across the globe. Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback has made public statements about pressuring governments to support the religious beliefs of their citizens. President Trump has criticized governments that persecute Christians. But very few comments have been made directly related to Russia.