Caribbean pastors to Trump: Stop LGBT coercion
Leaders ask the United States to end exportation of LGBT agenda
WASHINGTON—Nearly 300 Caribbean ministers and church leaders have urged President Donald Trump to end U.S. efforts to export the LGBT agenda.
The Jan. 31 letter contains signatures of pastors from the Bahamas, Guyana, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago. The church leaders claim the Obama administration’s State Department deployed coercive measures to normalize same-sex marriage and elevate LGBT issues at the expense of human rights.
“It is not only the view of our Christian churches but the testimony of the recorded history of millennia of civilization that marriage can only be between a man and a woman,” the letter states. “Why should we be forced to believe otherwise?”
The ministers cited concerns over the influence of the State Department’s special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, a position the Obama administration created in early 2015.
The letter draws a parallel between what foreign countries are experiencing and last year’s Department of Education directive requiring all public schools to make special accommodations for transgender students or risk losing federal funding.
“Please understand that this same kind of coercion is being used against our countries to force us to fall in line with the entire same-sex agenda,” the pastors write. “In this letter, there is no room to enumerate the various ways in which this is happening.”
President Barack Obama created the special envoy for LGBT rights two years ago and appointed Randy Berry, an openly gay career foreign service officer, to lead the effort begun under former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“Gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights,” Clinton said in 2011 when the State Department launched the Global Equality Fund, which has since spent tens of millions of dollars in 80 countries promoting an LGBT agenda.
In a recent interview on the Washington Watch audio program with Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said the shift at the State Department has been problematic in countries around the world. He cited the situation in Macedonia, where the State Department, in conjunction with billionaire George Soros, helped elect LGBT-friendly politicians.
“There needs to be a top-to-bottom review at the State Department to ensure this kind of aggressive partisanship doesn’t take place,” Smith said. “It is an absolute outrage that our tax dollars are being misspent in this fashion.”
On Monday, Foreign Policy magazine reported the Trump administration has so far retained Berry in his role as the gay rights special envoy—surprising conservative and LGBT groups alike.
Ross Murray of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation told Foreign Policy he would withhold praise for Trump “until I see what his mandate becomes in this administration.”
Faith McDonnell, director of religious liberty programs at the Institute on Religion and Democracy, said Berry’s presence as special envoy was concerning.
“All men and women, created in the image of God, must have their human rights protected,” she wrote in an email. “But in the type of climate created by obsession with LGBTI rights, the rights of the persecuted and oppressed became much less of a priority—particularly if the persecuted were Christians.”
The letter from Caribbean ministers reiterated that concern: “[S]o-called ‘gay-rights’ are pre-empting human rights, such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of conscience.”
Republican lawmakers have been reluctant to criticize the Trump administration even after the White House announced Trump would keep unchanged a 2014 executive order that prohibited hiring discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity for federal contractors but included no religious exemption.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said Congress could take steps to promote freedom of religion and conscience at home by passing the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA).
Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, who introduced the House version of FADA, told me it’s still too early to judge the Trump administration’s commitment to religious liberty.
“I think [Trump’s] going to be careful in what he does,” he said. “I don’t have concerns yet.”
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