To their everlasting credit, when the American Founders put their lives on the line to declare independence, they spoke not just for Americans but for all humanity: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Jefferson later wrote, “It is impossible not to be sensible that we are acting for all mankind,” and expressed hope that the Declaration would be a beacon shining far beyond the borders of America: “May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, the signal for arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man.” Tom Paine would reflect that “America made a stand, not for herself only, but for the world.”
Nearly two and a half centuries later, life and liberty are under worldwide attack as the European Union and powerful NGOs seek to promote abortion and curtail religious liberty through the power of the United Nations—and do so under the deceptive banner of rights. “This revolution in manners and morals,” Pope Francis emphasized, “has often flown the flag of freedom but in fact it has brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings.” Fortunately, as happened with the American Founders, the United States is once again making a stand for life and liberty, not for herself only, but for the world. On September 25, 2019, President Donald J. Trump made history when he declared to the UN General Assembly that “every child— born and unborn— is a sacred gift from God,” and that Americans will “never tire of defending innocent life… Global bureaucrats have absolutely no business attacking the sovereignty of nations that wish to protect innocent life.”
His words were followed by action, as noted in his January 21 Proclamation on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2020: “My Administration is also building an international coalition to dispel the concept of abortion as a fundamental human right. So far, 24 nations representing more than a billion people have joined this important cause… [W]e will never tire of defending innocent life— at home or abroad.” Then in a letter issued May 18 from USAID to Secretary-General António Guterres, the United States reminded him of its massive funding being provided to the UN, and starkly warned that “the UN should not intimidate or coerce Member States that are committed to the right to life… The United States stands with nations that have pledged to protect the unborn.”
The Trump Administration is no less adamant in championing religious freedom, as when the President hosted the historic Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom on September 23, 2019 at the UN General Assembly, and declared, “Our Founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.” He then pledged $25 million to protect religious freedom and religious sites.
And in his Executive Order on Advancing International Religious Freedom on June 2, 2020, President Trump directed funding for programs that promote religious freedom abroad, and called for diplomats to raise concerns with partner countries over religious discrimination. “Religious freedom, America’s first freedom,” he proclaimed, “is a moral and national security imperative. Religious freedom for all people worldwide is a foreign policy priority of the United States, and the United States will respect and vigorously promote this freedom… [O]ur Founders understood religious freedom not as a creation of the state, but as a gift of God to every person and a right that is fundamental for the flourishing of our society.”
As IOF works with leaders around the globe in defense of family, life, and liberty, we applaud the leadership of the Trump Administration in carrying on the legacy of the Founders to make a stand for America and the world. We also urge escalation of the effort to counter the massive opposition in the UN, and we echo the President’s plea in his Executive Order asking “all nations to join us in this urgent moral duty.” At stake are the God-given rights for which the Founders were willing to give their lives.