Pence's Ministerial on Religious Freedom Wraps Up

Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

At one point VP Pence warned Turkey against the further detention of Pastor Brunson.

The last day of the three day long Ministerial for the Advancement of Religious Freedom organized by the State Department was deemed the most pivotal day of all. The Trump administration exerted its considerable power on the event as evidenced by the speeches made on July 25 by Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of State, and Mike Pence, the Vice-President of the United States of America. Pence held back no punches as he threatened Turkey against further detaining Andrew Brunson, the American pastor jailed by the Erdogan administration.

The Trump administration, among other things, condemned anti-Semitism. Religious pluralism was encouraged by the organizers. Substantial speeches were made by Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and VP Pence. The latter was particularly scathing in his speech to the attendees, reminding them that those countries who do not favor religious freedom breed resentment and radicalize their citizens. They plant seeds of violence and trample upon other peoples' rights. Among the audience were foreign ministers, civil society and religious organizational heads, and religious discrimination survivors. As per the U.S. State Department, the motley crowd was brought together to fight religious persecution.

Pence spoke tough words against the Erdogan-led Turkish Government. He requested the release of Andrew Brunson or to get ready to suffer the consequences. The United States VP said if Turkey does not take quick action to free the pastor and allow him to return to the United States, then Washington will impose hard sanctions on Turkey which will continue until Brunson is released. The pastor, now 50 years old, has been a Turkish resident for more than 20 years. He was thrown into jail with many others after a failed coup attempt in 2016. The list of charges against him includes conspiracy and espionage, which Washington says is without merit and can be described as only bogus. The Erdogan regime moved Brunson from jail to house arrest on July 25, a change welcomed by Washington but not good enough.

The U.S. Vice President also warned of increasing anti-Semitism in Europe. He specially mentioned the United Kingdom, Germany, and France among the most affected. He warned that in Europe, where religious freedom was founded as a principle and then made permanent through laws, religious intolerance has been on the rise. 70 years after the Holocaust, Pence said, Jews are feeling vulnerable again.

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