For the first time, American legislation in defense of international religious freedom has reached into the Chinese Politburo.
Last week, President Donald Trump signed into law a bill to authorize sanctions against any officials in China’s top political body responsible for ongoing persecution against the country’s Muslim Uighur minority.
Passed by Congress with only one “no” vote, the action follows on the heels of this month’s release of the State Department’s 2019 Report on International Religious Freedom (IRF).
During the report’s public release, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lauded the United States’s commitment.
“America is not a perfect nation by any means, we always strive towards that more perfect union, trying to improve,” he said.
“[But] there is no other nation that cares so deeply about religious freedom.”
Such commitment was marked this week by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Each day from June 22–29 highlights an issue of concern, whether domestic or international.
Yesterday (June 24) the focus was on China.
Last summer, the government-affiliated Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association—representing about half of China’s estimated 12 million Catholics—condemned US criticism after the State Department’s second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom advocated for the 800,000 to 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities who have been arbitrarily detained in internment camps.
But one month later, the Chinese government permitted the first consecration of a Vatican-ordained bishop—a result of Pope Francis signing a controversial 2018 deal with Chinese authorities in an attempt to unite Rome with the underground Catholic church.
The US bipartisan consensus evident in the Uighur law reflects Pompeo’s assertion. First amendment rights guarantee freedom for all religions, and Americans generally desire for such liberty to extend worldwide.
But is there particular concern over Christian persecution? And is religious liberty eroding at home?
Two new polls suggest declining Catholic attention abroad, while the faithful grow more worried about the US. Aid to the Church in Need–USA (ACN–USA), an international papal agency that supports suffering and persecuted Christians in more than 140 countries, surveyed 1,000 US Catholics…
This article was first published at Christianity Today, on June 25, 2020. Please click here to read the full text.