China and Russia have a “morally reprehensible” tactic of cloaking human rights abuses in hypocritical speeches, according to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“We’d hear the Chinese talk about rights, we’d hear the Russians talk about things they were doing in the name of human rights, and it was not just uncomfortable, it was morally reprehensible,” Pompeo told Concerned Women for America on Friday.
Pompeo put special emphasis on China’s “systematic repression” of Uighur Muslims, although he denounced Iran and Russia as “perpetrators of religious oppression.” But his remarks to the evangelical Christian activists made a broader argument against the idea that “separation of church and state” precludes Christians in the U.S. government from acting on their beliefs.
“Earlier, Penny, you described a moment where a great lady told a parliamentarian, ‘You can be both a parliamentarian and a Christian,’” Pompeo said during his speech, referring to CWA president Penny Nance. “And I promise you, as secretary of state, I will do my best to be your senior diplomat and stay true to my Christian values every single day.”
That dynamic was at work when the State Department launched the now-annual ministerial on religious freedom, Pompeo suggested. U.S. officials have used it to put a spotlight on cases of religious persecution. Pompeo declared China’s Uighur crackdown “the stain of the century,” to the irritation of Chinese officials. But those ministerials wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t “convince[d] America you could do this,” the former Kansas Republican lawmaker said.
“There’s buried sometimes inside of government this idea of separation of church and state,” Pompeo told Nance. “And we made clear our objective: It wasn’t to foist my particular religious views on anyone else, but rather to come talk about how this is important, that their governments could be more successful, that their people can live better lives, that they too have those set of rights by nature of their humanness.”
“There are those who would have preferred I didn’t do it and are concerned about the answers that our foundational documents will provide,” he said. “I know where those rights came from. They came from our Lord, and when we get this right, we’ll have done something good, not just I think for the United States but for the world.”