Open Doors USA Meets With The Trump And Clinton Campaigns To Discuss Persecution
By Kristin Wright, Director of Advocacy at Open Doors USA
On Tuesday afternoon in New York, David Curry and I had the privilege of meeting with senior officials on both the Trump and Clinton campaigns about persecution. (By the way, in case you haven’t yet signed our petition urging both candidates to speak out on this crucial issue, please sign and share this petition today!)
These significant meetings were the culmination of several weeks of engagement with both campaigns, beginning with a letter co-authored by Open Doors USA’s David Curry and the Institute for Global Engagement’s Chris Seiple, and signed by 12 other Christian leaders.
Open Doors USA and the Institute for Global Engagement worked to bring together this group of individuals and organizations that focus on international religious freedom in order to urge the presidential candidates to put forth their plans of action to address mounting religious persecution around the world.
What transpired in both meetings that afternoon was truly remarkable.
Going from the Trump Tower to the Brooklyn-based Clinton campaign headquarters, I observed in both campaign meetings great openness and attention to the issue of persecution, and a sincere desire to help those who are persecuted for their faith. (I just have to say that seeing that high level of interest from both sides was worth all of the work that it took over the past few months to make these meetings happen!)
As a group, we presented a series of non-partisan, practical recommendations on international religious freedom for the next administration. Among other recommendations, we urged the next administration ensure that highly qualified people are appointed as the U.S. Department of State Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the Special Envoy for Religion and Global Affairs within the first 100 days in office. These positions are so crucial to helping the persecuted. I was encouraged that both campaigns were receptive to this and agreed to the importance of timely appointments.
We fielded a number of great questions on the issue of religious persecution, and David Curry was able to share some firsthand information about Open Doors’ World Watch List. We offered to serve as a resource to both campaigns – and to the future administration – on this issue, and this offer was welcomed on both sides.
After both meetings, our group put together a brief statement about this nonpartisan engagement of both campaigns. Here is our statement:
“We, the undersigned, approached both presidential campaigns to have a non-partisan conversation about international religious freedom and presented recommendations. The conversations were wide-ranging, and we were encouraged that both campaigns seem to be in broad support of strengthening international religious freedom. We found both campaigns to be taking this issue—and our recommendations—seriously, particularly our emphasis that the new administration ensure that highly qualified people are appointed as the U.S. Department of State Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the Special Envoy for Religion and Global Affairs within the first 100 days in office. We expressed our readiness to serve as a resource to both campaigns. No matter the result of the election, there was agreement that American government, and society, should work to protect all those living under religious oppression and improve our collective effort to deepen and expand religious freedom for all faiths worldwide.”
Participants in this nonpartisan outreach effort to both campaigns include:
David Curry, president and CEO, Open Doors USA
Chris Seiple, president emeritus, Institute for Global Engagement
Jennifer Bryson, Center on Islam and Religious Freedom
James Chen, Institute for Global Engagement
Andrew Doran, In Defense of Christians
Thomas Farr, Religious Freedom Institute
Kent Hill, Religious Freedom Institute
Dennis R. Hoover, The Review of Faith & International Affairs
Douglas Johnston, International Center for Religion and Diplomacy
Jo Anne Lyon, Wesleyan Church
Robert Nicholson, Philos Project
Daniel Philpot, University of Notre Dame
Timothy Samuel Shah, Religious Freedom Institute
Kristin Wright, Open Doors USA
A complete review of specific recommendations given to each campaign is available online, linked from our press release on this story.
If you would like to join our campaign urging both candidates to address the crucial issue of persecution, please take a moment to sign our petition and encourage your friends to sign as well. We need more people to make their voice heard on behalf of our suffering brothers and sisters! Thank you for praying, thank you for speaking out for the voiceless, and thank you for being an advocate for those who suffer for their faith around the world.