Religious persecution overseas is a threat to American security, retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin said in an interview Friday, adding, “it’s only going to grow unless we wake up and start taking a very strong stand against this.”
Mr. Boykin, a former commander of the Army’s elite Delta Force who is now executive vice president of the Family Research Council, said the rise in global attacks on Christians indicates an increased intolerance that could hit closer to home.
He spoke with The Washington Times after the release of “Heroic Faith” (Fidelis Publishing), a book co-written with the FRC’s Arielle Del Turco, assistant director of the group’s Center for Religious Liberty, and Lela Gilbert, the organization’s senior fellow for international religious freedom.
In separate interviews, each stressed the connection between global religious liberty and issues in the United States.
Mr. Boykin said, “What we should recognize is that there are people all over the world now, Christians especially, that are rising up and saying, ‘Ultimately, my allegiance is to my faith, it’s to my God, it’s to the one who created the heavens and the earth.’ And they are, some of them, paying a dear price for it.”
At the same time, Mr. Boykin said the Biden administration’s priorities in religious liberty are sometimes misdirected.
He pointed to the recent disclosure that the State Department is spending $500,000 to promote the civil rights of atheists and other non-believers in South-Central Asia and the Near East, a move that drew criticism from more than a dozen GOP members of Congress.
It “should concern all of us that our government is helping to fund the rise of atheism,” Mr. Boykin said. “That is an indication to me that what we’re seeing happen in terms of the persecution of individual Christians, but also persecution of the churches, is a strong indication that it is here,” he added.
Ms. Del Turco agreed with Mr. Boykin on the U.S. national security implications of global religious liberty issues.
“It’s absolutely a national security issue,” she said. “I think we see this, especially in Africa, in the Middle East, and even to an extent in Asia, because religious strife and religious intolerance really foment violence that will eventually threaten the United States.”
She added, “We see this in places like Nigeria, where the violent and brutal killings of Christians is really threatening to put push that country to the verge of collapse and even send a refugee crisis into Europe, coming from Nigeria, if this persists.”
Ms. Gilbert said there are “360 million Christians [who] are persecuted, harassed, or otherwise uncomfortable in their homelands. But they’re all over the world. And you don’t get reports from places like North Korea; you have to search for reports from China. It’s just not an organized process.”
She said, “One of the reasons we wanted to write the book was to kind of wake up the Christian community in the U.S. Because we really are the only ones that can help them.”