December 8, 2019

Pompeo Focuses On Religious Liberty in CUFI Speech

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at a news conference on human rights at the State Department in Washington, U.S., July 8, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo focused on religious liberty during his July 8 speech at the Christians United for Israel Summit in Washington, D.C., contrasting Israel’s religious freedom to Iran’s intolerance.

Pompeo began the speech by arguing that “Christians in America are among Israel’s greatest friends,” saying that Christian support for a Jewish state “runs back to the early Puritan settlers.” He cited evangelist William Blackstone pushed then-President Woodrow Wilson to support the 1916 Balfour Declaration as a later example of Christian support for a Jewish homeland.

The secretary of state went on to praise Israel as “the only truly free nation throughout the entire Middle East,” citing the Jewish State’s respect for religious liberty.

“Israel is a majority Jewish nation, but the government doesn’t force Jewish beliefs on others,” Pompeo said. “Indeed, to the contrary, its Declaration of Independence guarantees the ‘full freedom of conscience, worship, education, and culture.’ Israel permits the conversion of its citizens away from Judaism, the majority religion. Indeed, last year, the Knesset – their parliament there in Israel ‒ passed a law prohibiting hiring discrimination against workers who refuse to work on their day of rest.”

Pompeo contrasted Israel’s record on religious liberty to Iran’s “militant” theocracy, which abuses Christian converts from Islam.

“Last year, an Iranian court upheld a 10-year prison sentences on four Iranian Christians who were ‘acting against national security’ by, quote, ‘promoting Zionist Christianity,’ end of quote, and running house churches. This is something we know in America,” Pompeo said. “Instead of following the normal summons procedure, authorities raided their homes, beat them, and used electroshock weapons on them.  They then threw them into Evin Prison – a regime dungeon inside of Tehran.”

The regime’s “intolerance” toward other religions is what underlies Tehran’s cries to destroy Israel, Pompeo said, proceeding to praise the Trump administration’s actions against Iran.

“We’ve implemented the strongest pressure campaign in history against the Iranian regime, and we are not done,” Pompeo said. “We’ve cut off billions in funds that the Islamic Republic of Iran’s leadership would have used for various nefarious purposes, not the least of which would have been their efforts to destroy the state of Israel. It is also the case that under President Trump, the Israel haters such as Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad receive far less blood money from Iran to pursue their terrorism than ever in recent history.”

Pompeo also touted the Trump administration’s efforts to combat anti-Semitism.

“We live in a very real world, and for that reason I was able last March to declare a simple truth, that anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitism,” Pompeo said. “Period. Full stop.”

The full speech can be seen below:

Full speech transcript can be read at the State Department’s website.