The Chinese Communist Party is “at war with all faiths,” according to former U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, who says America and its democratic allies must “stand firm” in the promotion of religious freedom as a “human community”. right.”
Brownback, who held the post under former President Trump, made the claims at an international conference on Friday aimed at advancing religious freedom amid attacks on religious freedom in China, South Korea North, in Japan, in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
The event, broadcast live from South Korea, called out what organizers described as the “unwarranted persecution” of members of the Unification Church, whose supporters say they have faced threats of death and other forms of harassment in Japan since the July assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Mr Abe was shot dead by a gunman who claimed to have a personal grievance with the church – his mother made large donations to him – and allegedly targeted the former prime minister for attending church-sponsored events , which has long been active in Japan.
Some speakers at Friday’s conference delved into the issue, with former US House Speaker Newt Gingrich expressing concern that those pushing for “discriminatory actions” against unificationists in Japan” genuinely seek to weaken Japan’s security and peace, making Japan weaker in the face of threats from China and [North Korea].”
Rev. Paula White-Cain, Mr. Trump’s spiritual adviser during his presidency, also raised the issue, pointing out that many current and former leaders around the world have spoken out in favor of the decades-old struggle of the movement. unification against communism and the promotion of peace and strength. families.
“That’s why it’s no surprise that Prime Minister Abe has joined many heads of state in appreciating this work, because it’s good for Japan, good for the Republic of Korea and good for America. and good for peace in Northeast Asia and the world,” said Pastor White of the Florida-based City of Destiny Church.
Mr Brownback, meanwhile, said that “religious freedom is the hallmark of an open society in a democracy”.
“The United States, Japan [and] South Korea [are] key democracies that must uphold religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, all the time,” he said.
Mr Brownback, who is also a former Republican senator from Kansas and a former governor of that state, went on to say that “faith is the only institution that has the strength to bring down a government”.
For this reason, he said, China’s ruling Communist Party “looks and says, ‘We’re going to stop this. We go to war with that.
Friday’s rally, officially titled “Conference of Hope for Universal Human Rights,” featured in-person and virtual presentations from a range of political and religious dignitaries. It was organized by the Washington Times Foundation and Think Tank 2022, a Korean Peninsula reunification initiative sponsored by the Unification Church, also known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. .
Speakers denounced the full range of religious persecution by authoritarian governments, highlighting the plight of Tibetan Buddhists, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Baha’is, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Yazidis and followers of Falun Gong and unificationists.
Many spoke of the North Korean and Chinese governments’ intolerance of religious freedom. Some have focused in particular on the plight of Muslims within China’s ethnic Uyghur minority, against whom Beijing is committing genocide, according to the US State Department.
Others focused their remarks on the philosophical principles of religious freedom.
“Religious freedom has long been referred to as the first freedom,” said Doug Bandow, senior fellow specializing in foreign policy and civil liberties at the Cato Institute, a Washington-based think tank.
“Of course, other freedoms are also important, even vital. But the foundation on which they rest is the right to seek the transcendent and to understand its role in life,” he said.
“People’s relationship with (or without) God is up to them and no one else, especially the state, despite its claim of omniscience,” Bandow told the conference in prepared remarks. “This essential freedom is under attack around the world. The greatest threats come from oppressive governments bent on supplanting religious belief for their own ends.
Conference organizers said in a press release that one of the highlights of the event was the adoption of a “Declaration on the Universal Value of Religious Freedom” calling on “all people in the world to remain firm against all forms of religious intolerance, prejudice, slander, and hatred.
With that as a backdrop, Mr. Gingrich pointed to the work of the late Reverend Sun Myung Moon, an ardent anti-Communist, who founded the Unification Church in 1954.
Reverend Moon’s wife, Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon, has led the unification movement since Reverend Moon’s death in 2012. Together, the two have dedicated their lives to the reunification of the Korean peninsula and the promotion of peace in the world. They founded The Washington Times in 1982.
Gingrich spoke of the movement’s decades-long battle against communism, noting that the movement has long included “a broad base of patriotic Japanese citizens” and early featured the formation of the “International Federation for Victory Over Communism”.
“This movement has strongly supported freedom, prosperity and Japan’s role as a leader in peace and security,” Gingrich said.
“We see that many media are trying to dissolve the movement in Japan without any legal procedure,” he said. “We also found that many are politically sympathetic to the anti-religious, anti-American, anti-Abe communist or socialist viewpoint.”
“We believe Japan will uphold its commitment to religious freedom and democracy,” Gingrich said.