Every Christian knows that our religious freedom has been under all-out assault by the secular left for decades.
But over the past four years, President Donald Trump has made protecting religious liberty a priority for his administration.
Now a new study proves that an increase in religious freedom can have a profound impact on society and is essential to “human flourishing.”
According to the U.S. Department of State, about 80 percent of the world lives in countries where religious freedom is restricted and religious minorities are persecuted.
In a recent study by Christos A. Makridis, an assistant research professor at Arizona State University and a senior adviser at Gallup, the median country experienced a 13 percent decline in religious liberty between 2006-2018, with most of those declines in Western Democracies.
In the United States, religious freedom has declined by 35 percent since 1980 the study found.
According to Makridis, religious liberty has a profound impact on society in many countries.
The study, which evaluated more than 150 countries between 2006 and 2018, found that religious liberty led to improvements in “human flourishing,” especially among religious minorities.
Research by Makridis concluded that religious liberty mattered more than even economic freedom and served as an “integral prerequisite for democratic governance, aiding the process for civic engagement and women’s empowerment and reducing the potential for public and political corruption.”
“This shouldn’t come as a surprise,” Makridis said. “Limiting the freedom to choose and arrive at even the most basic judgments about one’s identity stifles creativity and increases the potential for corruption by overly zealous and powerful bureaucrats.”
Makridis’ study shows how impactful Trump’s initiatives have had on the U.S.
Shortly after being elected, Trump fulfilled his promise to Christians by issuing an executive order to protect religious freedom.
The Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty required government agencies to “vigorously enforce” the federal government’s “robust protections for religious freedom … and respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech.”
The order provided $25 million to fund the initiative, which led to the creation of the DOJ’s Religious Liberty Task Force and the Place to Worship Initiative to help implement and enforce federal guidelines.
“These evil attacks are a wound on all humanity,” Trump said in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly. “We should all work together to protect communities of every faith.”
Since then, Trump’s initiatives have had a huge impact on stamping out discrimination against Christians and religious organizations.
In 2017, the DOJ filed a brief supporting the Supreme Court’s decision defending the First Amendment rights of Colorado baker Jack Phillips to operate his business in accordance with his religious convictions.
The brief put courts on notice that it could not allow state governments to force businesses to provide services that violated their religious beliefs.
The DOJ has filed several other briefs to the Supreme Court siding with schools, churches and businesses in defense of their rights to practice and express their faith.
In one case, it even supported a biologically binary definition of sex and those who support that definition, whether based on science or religious beliefs.
Trump’s EO has also had an impact on the Department of Defense, forcing the Air Force to overturn disciplinary action against a colonel who did not support an airman’s same-sex marriage.
And it forced nine federal agencies to issue new regulations ending discrimination against religious entities, removing barriers to federal contracts and grants for religious organizations.
And in the latest example, the courts have sided with several churches that have challenged attempts by state governments to restrict their operations and worship services due to the coronavirus.
“These actions, and many others, are a result of the Trump administration’s efforts to prioritize religious freedom,” said David Closson, director of Christian Ethics and Biblical Worldview for the Family Research Council.
Although the United States has seen a decline in religious liberty over the past two decades, Makridis says that decline would have been “accelerated” if not for the Trump administration.
“Particularly with the ongoing pandemic, many states and local governments have enacted restrictions that have either outright stopped faith-based institutions from gathering or penalizing them after the fact, despite some exemptions,” he said.
“And yet, other entities, including violent protests, have been allowed and in many cases promoted by local officials. If we care about religious liberty as a nation, then we need to be consistent in how we treat one another.”
“Let these results be a reminder that religious liberty isn’t just fluff — there’s strong quantitative evidence supporting the view that it has a causal effect on human flourishing.”
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in October, 2018 that the U.S. would continue to lead the world in religious freedom.
“The protection of religious freedom is central to the Trump administration’s foreign policy, and protecting this human right is an essential part of who we are as Americans,” he said.
And they have done just that.