USA (MNN) — Pew Research Center reports that 74 percent of the world’s population lives in countries that restrict, persecute, and show outright hostility towards religious groups.
Numbers like these pushed Senators James Lankford and Chris Coons to introduce a resolution stating that the United States will promote religious freedom across the globe. Still, the government is missing a key voice for more than 215 million persecuted Christians in the world.
The Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein, stepped down in January of this year. Now, 100 days into the Trump administration, that office has yet to be filled. David Curry of Open Doors USA says that’s a real problem for state-level decision makers. “If you look back over the past few years, religious liberty, where one group is trying to eliminate another group for their religious identity, is at the heart of many of our challenges.”
The Ambassador-at-Large “helps rally for particular cases and incidents, laws, policies, and issues that are going on around the world related to the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.” They give direction to the President and his staff members and help promote policies that protect religious freedom around the world.
The last appointment was Rabbi David Saperstein, “and he was exceptional at that job,” says Curry. “He brought together people from various faiths, was always on point when it came to discussing persecution of Christianity and other religious minorities, and his absence is definitely felt.”
Christians represent the largest religious minority in the world, and Curry believes the new Ambassador-at-Large would have to understand that. “It needs to be somebody who unites and understands the issues of religious liberty and religious intolerance against other minorities,” he says.
And those issues present plenty of nuances. Although Curry believes some officials are prone to blaming ISIS and other extremist groups for persecution, he says that’s not where it ends.
“The persecution of Christians is ingrained in policies, in governments that we do business with,” he explains. “It’s in countries like India, which is rising in Hindu nationalism. It’s in countries like Saudi Arabia with whom we do massive amounts of business transactions.” Whoever took office would have to understand how often persecution is occurring in many cultures, says Curry, especially when it comes to Christianity.
For more on how you can connect with the persecuted Church, click here. For now, keep the Trump administration and the Christians suffering around the world in your prayers.