- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2019

The White House is reportedly drafting plans to condition U.S. foreign assistance on religious freedom.

According to a report Monday evening in Politico, the proposal could cover both American military and humanitarian assistance.

Citing “two White House officials,” Politico cautioned that the proposed executive order is in the early drafting stages with many of the important details still up in the air.

But “its mere consideration shows how much the White House prioritizes religious freedom, an emphasis critics say is really about galvanizing Trump’s evangelical Christian base,” Politico wrote.

With exceptions such as the Rohingya in Burma and the Uighurs in China — much of the world’s religious persecution is aimed at Christians.

However some of the regimes with poor to terrible religious-freedom records — Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey — are U.S. allies. Others nations with shaky records such as Vietnam, India and China are important trading partners or political clients.

The officials told Politico that sanctions are being weighed and that the law will mimic a current U.S. law that conditions aid on an annual report on how countries act against human trafficking, but using the annual report by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

President Trump personally made it clear at his United Nations speech earlier this fall that religious-freedom will become a U.S. foreign-policy priority and announced a $25 million commitment to religious-freedom efforts.

“Hard to believe, but 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious liberty is in significant danger or even completely outlawed,” he said. “Americans will never tire in our effort to defend and promote freedom of worship and religion.”

According to Politico, Mr. Trump has not yet seen the proposal.

• Victor Morton can be reached at vmorton@washingtontimes.com.

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