Trump and the politics of international religious freedom

Haynes, Jeffrey (2020) Trump and the politics of international religious freedom. Religions, 11 (8). ISSN 2077-1444


The article examines the USA’s international religious freedom policy during the presidency of Donald Trump. It argues that the Trump administration consistently prioritised America’s international religious freedom (IRF) policy according to Judeo-Christian values. This contrasted with previous administrations, which did not pursue such a clear Christocentric approach. The Trump administration has pursued the policy with vigour, drawing on Judeo-Christian ideology and prioritising religious freedom above other human rights, such as equality for women and sexual minorities. The article begins with a brief summary of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), signed into law by President Clinton in 1998. It then examines the influence of Judeo-Christian ideology on Trump’s international religious freedom policy. To do this, the article surveys three recent initiatives: the Commission on Unalienable Rights, the annual Ministerial to Advance International Religious Freedom, and the International Religious Freedom Alliance. I argue that collectively the initiatives promote the paramountcy of Judeo-Christian ideology. The article concludes that the Trump administration’s international religious freedom is strongly informed by a Judeo-Christian ideology which seeks to place religious freedom first in a hierarchy of human rights, while relegating others, especially equality for females and sexual minorities, to a lesser position.

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