If there’s one thing the headlines tell us, it’s that Americans take the simplest things for granted every day. The ability to worship freely or buy a Bible are luxuries for so many people around the world. Just last month, people in China started to notice that online bookstores have stopped selling the Chinese translation of the Bible on major internet sites. So much for the country’s pledge to protect religious freedom!
For the first time in two decades, Chinese leaders caved to pressure from critics and made a weak attempt to clean up their reputation on religious liberty. But, as our own Travis Weber points out, this latest policy paper shows how little the socialist regime understands the concept. Section I makes it clear that China’s version of religious liberty still puts faith under the thumb of government:
Actively guiding religions in adapting to the socialist society means guiding religious believers to love their country and compatriots, safeguard national unity, ethnic solidarity, be subordinate to and serve the overall interests of the nation and the Chinese people. It also means guiding religious groups to support the leadership of the CPC and the socialist system; uphold and follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics; develop religions in the Chinese context; embrace core socialist values.
That’s not religious freedom! True religious freedom is letting God impact everything we do, not the state. By definition, it fulfills an obligation to God over the state. Unfortunately, socialist societies like China think the state is god and want faith to conform to government policy (not vice-versa).
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley sees right through this cheap ploy and called out China for its “assault on their citizens’ freedom.” Pointing to the crackdown on Bibles, she went to bat for the country’s more than 70 million Christians, insisting that “Religious Freedom is one of our most precious rights – one that should be enjoyed by all no matter where they are born.” Certainly, no one should have to “adapt themselves to the socialist society” to exercise that right.
In the meantime, Americans are grateful for the leadership of Ambassador Haley, who isn’t afraid to stand up to countries like China. Incidents like this one also point to our country’s need for a man like Mike Pompeo at the helm of the Department of State. It’s time for our country to pick up the torch Obama dropped and light the world’s way back to freedom.
After all, religious freedom is more than a humanitarian concern. It’s in the interest of our own security to advance it around the world. “Despite a pattern of ongoing persecution and instability in various countries around the world,” Travis explains, “which is clearly related to a lack of religious freedom in those places, we have nevertheless resisted the possibility that homeland security threats exist because we have failed to cultivate religious freedom elsewhere. We tend to want to separate our own national security from worldwide religious freedom.” Emerging evidence, he writes, suggests we’ve been wrong. “With ongoing security threats around the world… shouldn’t we at least be open to the possibility that we need to change our thinking on this issue?”
To find out why our foreign policy leaders should care about religious liberty — and why it’s in the United States’ long-term interests — check out Travis’s new paper, “Religious Freedom and National Security.”
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.