Aug 31, 2017 by Will Maule

Tillerson Prioritizing Christians, Scrapping Other Religious Programs

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is seeking to eradicate many official positions set-up by President Barack Obama, and wants to merge key departments in order to strengthen the Trump administration's commitment to protecting religious freedom.

A prime example is in the appointment of a United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; a position that was left vacant for much of the Obama presidency. "There is a need for the swift appointment of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. With the last administration, we felt that there was quite a lag time," said Open Doors USA Director of Advocacy in an interview with HelloChristian before the election. So, that is one area that Rex has done well in. 

Tillerson is also seeking to eliminate the department of Religion and Global Affairs (RGA) and having only portions of its previous functions integrated into the department of International Religious Freedom (IRF). "RGA has historically increased the ability of Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other faith leaders to contribute in-depth analysis and information to help shape U.S. policy approaches that benefit from the wisdom of religious actors," writes Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon at Huffington Post.

So, as much as the Trump administration's commitment to the protection of the Christian faith is clear, perhaps it is coming at a cost to the upholding of the political influence of other religions and faith groups. "As the leader of an ecumenical Christian organization committed to peacebuilding in the Middle East, I maintain profound concerns about limiting the voices of religious actors to only those concerned about issues of religious freedom," continues Cannon.

"The elimination of Religion and Global Affairs as a department within State will make it more difficult for the administration to engage religious voices more broadly in diplomatic and global challenges while also confronting issues of religious freedom."

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