Opinion: Biden opposes religious freedom at home and abroad

He calls on his State Department to meddle in the moral and religious affairs of foreign countries.

By George Neumayr, American Spectator

In 2011, Hillary Clinton announced that the promotion of “LGBT rights” abroad formed “a priority of our foreign policy.” She scolded religiously conservative countries for regarding that agenda as a “Western phenomenon.” She instructed diplomats at the State Department to meddle in the moral and religious affairs of those countries. “In our embassies, our diplomats are raising concerns about specific cases and laws,” she said.

The Biden administration is picking up where Clinton left off. Biden, who is as opposed to religious freedom abroad as he is at home, made it clear last week that he will jumpstart that bumptious Obama-era policy of imposing the secular progressive view on the whole world.

We must “repair our moral leadership,” Biden said in a speech at the State Department. “You know, we’ll ensure diplomacy and foreign assistance are working to promote the rights of those individuals, included by combatting criminalization and protecting LGBTQ refugees and asylum-seekers.”

Biden also put out a statement titled “Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World.” It is a unique document in the history of American diplomacy, to say the least. In it, Biden says that he will consider financial sanctions against countries that do not subscribe to his view of libertine rights.

The list of such countries is long. This memo, if implemented, would mean endless tangles with them. Look at its sweeping language:

“I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons…. Agencies engaged abroad are directed to strengthen existing efforts to combat the criminalization by foreign governments of LGBTQI+ status or conduct and expand efforts to combat discrimination, homophobia, transphobia, and intolerance on the basis of LGBTQI+ status or conduct.”

What constitutes “homophobia” and “transphobia”? Do countries merely opposed to gay marriage or transgender propaganda in schools fall under those strictures? Presumably. To treat such countries as akin to South Africa under apartheid is outrageous.

Biden is in effect calling for his busybodies at the State Department to go to battle with most of the religiously conservative countries of the world. One would think such an outlandish policy might generate major headlines. But, of course, it hasn’t. To the media, this policy is unremarkable, just one more laudable step toward a fundamentally transformed America.

But in light of America’s Judeo-Christian traditions, which have always cherished religious freedom at home and honored it abroad, this policy is astounding. It is an absurd and frivolous affront to important allies and an abuse of the State Department. Is this really how Biden proposes to increase America’s “respect” in the world?

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The intrusive policy raises other questions. How will Biden apply it to Islamic countries? Will he drop his customary political correctness toward them and demand changes to their laws? Or will he direct his attention toward Christian countries? One suspects the latter. Liberalism’s enthusiasm for the Islamic world normally protects it from scrutiny.

The Obama administration was certainly hesitant in this regard. It meddled in largely Christian Africa but kept its distance from the Islamic Middle East. Obama once called St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans “obscure” when speaking about the Bible’s position on homosexuality. He never leveled any similar criticism at the Koran.

Obama, who was given to musings on the dangers of colonialism, never objected to the liberal neocolonialism of Planned Parenthood in Africa. In 2010, his administration spent $23 million in U.S. taxpayer funds to lobby Kenyans into including “reproductive rights” in their constitution.

Biden is giving a new push to that liberal neocolonialism. He is oblivious to the ironies it poses in light of his usual condemnations of American arrogance. Obama and Biden came to power in part by calling George W. Bush a bully for imposing Western ideology on the Middle East. But then they foisted their own Western ideology on foreign countries. Biden now resumes and enlarges that campaign. It is bound to end badly. Countries with principled objections to gay marriage and transgenderism will not take kindly to American lectures on their supposed lack of enlightenment.

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Just as Biden has no respect for the religious freedom of the Little Sisters of the Poor, so he lacks any for the religious freedom of countries steeped in venerable religious traditions. Biden is deluded enough to think that this hubris represents a restoration of America’s “moral leadership” in the world. To many countries, it will simply signal America’s lack of seriousness under an increasingly batty and intolerant woke politics.