Mike Pompeo…trying to Make Christianity Great Again?
“Religious freedom isn’t just a Christian concern, a Jewish concern, a Muslim concern, a Buddhist concern, a Hindu concern, or a humanist concern. It’s all of our concern; it is everyone’s concern.” — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, 2019 Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom
Yes, you should be very concerned. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is moving a faith-based agenda that paints his and his like-minded colleagues’ brand of Christianity as targets of oppression. This is part of a strategy to form alliances in parts of the world where the Trump administration is looking to amass or hold on to waning imperial power (the Middle East, Asia, South America, etc.) As I read through the transcripts and materials for the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom (a gathering to which I would be surprised if any Unitarian Universalists or publicly pro-LGBTQ faith leaders were invited) some of the prominent names say it all: Secretary Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), as well as journalists, Raymond Arroyo, David Brody, Hugh Hewitt, Pete Mundo. All conservative, all male, all white. I genuinely have nothing against conservative white men; I just don’t think that they should be the only flavor leading or shaping the narrative in a conversation about global faith and freedom particularly when the United States is steadily retreating from hard earned liberties such as access to contraception, HIV prevention, women’s right to choose, transgender rights, migrant rights, anti-racism, etc. In the materials that appear online, I see no appetite to address the ways in which religion is used globally to justify rape, execution of sexual minorities and actual genocide. Pompeo’s religious altruism is a political MacGuffin.
Contrary to the narrative of certain state legislatures, Christianity in the United States is not under attack. But it is, through its own organizational and institutional failings, increasingly unpopular and sometimes downright harmful, like many religious institutions in our country. Centuries of unchecked power, prosperity gospel gone haywire, child molestation, pastor sexual assaults, justification of every kind of narrow-minded marginalization and otherization based on highly limited readings of Biblical scripture…Christianity has done itself no favors in the last 50–100 years while the world has changed, gotten significantly smaller, more literate and smarter. At the same…