Mike Pompeo and the Battle for Freedom of Religion

  • America is on a campaign for religious freedom and human rights.
  • Orthodox religious ideologies are against change.
  • Violent demonstrations in America shows the danger of giving too much freedom.

A new International religious freedom alliance was announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Pompeo said that the alliance would include likeminded partners who treasure and fight for the international freedom of every human being. In the meantime because of the demonstrations for injustice to Floyd George corona cases are growing in the states while in Europe they are declining. The crisis of George Floyd has slowed down the American cause of freedom.

Religious Yeshiva students demonstrate against Israel draft reforms.

According to the alliance official description “it will advocate for freedom of religion or belief for all which includes the rights of any individuals to hold any belief or none, to change religion or belief and to manifest religion or belief, either alone or in a community with others in worship observance practice and teaching.

Twenty seven countries have signed on as members of the alliance including Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, UK, and the United States. They signed together that “freedom of religion is not a western ideal, but truly the bedrock of societies.”

Some of the principles underlining the alliance include, condemnation of violence on account of one’s religion or beliefs, opposition to laws that hinder religious belief and practice, protection of religious sites, engagement with civil society, the promotion of religious literacy, and freedom of religion.

These actions will include, interfaith dialogues, support for people suffering from religious persecution, and training law enforcement to enforce these issues in society.

Pompeo emphasized that the Trump administration is trying to stop persecution of religion, as people shouldn’t have to leave their country to practice their faith. America he said is refuge for those people that are suffering from persecution of their religious beliefs.

Pompeo pointed toward China as the main offender of religious persecution. China law prohibits religious practices. China expelled the Buddhists from Tibet and maintain a strict Communist society where the people are ordered to devote themselves to their nation and the communist ideal which means suppression of human rights and freedoms. Pompeo also pointed toward Iran as a offender of human rights.

Israel a democratic state whose foundation is on the theocratic Biblical Nation of Israel is in the middle of this conflict between societies. The schism in Israel between Orthodox religious and secular liberals prevented the nation from forming a coalition government after two elections. There were issues of human rights which interfered between the two sides. While the majority of Israeli want to continue with a democratic state; the main conflict is between extremists on both sides.

The new government was formed as an emergency government primarily to deal with the Corona virus pandemic. The conflicting interests of the two sides were temporarily postponed to form this unified government. The secular Israelis want the reformed Rabbinate to be given equal power to make decisions as the Orthodox. The way the government was formed at the time of Ben Gurion the first Prime Minister, the Orthodox were given full control over marriage, divorce, and conversions which would give full citizenship. They are also given rights to organize their own educational system.

Woman at Western wall demonstrate for equal religious rights.

Pompeo and Trump are demanding equal rights for reformed and Orthodox religion which in Israel is one of the most difficult issues and cause of domestic disturbance. Israeli woman and reformed Judaism has been battling with the Israel government to give them equal standing rights of prayer at the most holy place in Israel, the Western Wall.

The government was split on the issue of equal rights for the religious and secular regarding draft in the military. The religious were initially given special deferment rights by Ben Gurion when the nation was established which the secular claim is not democratic. This has caused violent demonstrations in Israel. To form the new government the issue of draft of religious students has temporarily been postponed.

The problems which Israel society has with equality and freedom is an example of difficulties making a transition from Orthodox theocracy to democratic freedom.  One of the leading Orthodox Sephardic Rabbinate in the beginning of the Corona Pandemic organized prayers at the Western Wall for China. This was before the plague had spread to America. In the eye of many Orthodox leaders China is not different from America. The Orthodox are against democracy like Communism.

Praying for the people of China is different than praying for China the communist nation. China is the main enemy of freedom of religion in the world. Ultra-Orthodox can also be against freedom but not against belief in God. The battle for freedom of religion has to reach a balance between societies secular and religious. President Trump has been battling for America to reach a compromise on both sides.

Also there is a big discrepancy regarding the Deal of Century of Trump.  The Ultra-Orthodox are against the peace treaty if it will give the Palestinians a State. The Palestinians are against the treaty because they want the whole piece of land of Judah and Shomron. Both sides base their values on scripture, the Koran or the bible.  They both do not accept that the freedom and peace which America is selling as more important than their religious ideals. 52% of Israelis are for annexation which is not a large majority. A smaller percentage of Arabs are willing to accept the Deal of the Century.  The ideologies of Judaism and Islam have conflicting nationalistic ideals.

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David Wexelman

Rabbi David Wexelman is the  author of five books on the topics of World Unity and Peace, and Progressive Jewish Spirituality. Rabbi Wexelman is a member of the American Friends of Maccabee, a charitable organization helping the poor in the United States and in Israel.  Donations are tax deductible in the USA.
http://www.worldunitypeace.org

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