01/12/2021 United States (International Christian Concern) – As the United States moves from the Trump presidency to the Biden administration, speculation circulates among various stakeholders about what the Biden team will set as priorities for the nation. While several domestic and international policy positions will see dramatic change, several policy experts believe that the Biden team will continue to build on the international religious freedom legacy of the Trump administration.
Gayle Machin, who serves as the Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), shared in an interview with Christian Post that she believes Biden will be “just as strong” as Trump on religious freedom issues going forward. The commission serves as a watchdog organization on international religious freedom conditions around the world and advises the executive branch and Congress on matters pertaining to persecution and religious freedom internationally. Chair Manchin is the wife of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and former first lady of the state. USCIRF is a bipartisan commission established by the United States Congress and often models the bipartisan side of American politics.
Others have speculated that the Biden Administration will shift from the Trump administration’s approach. Some voices have even called for USCIRF and the Office of International Religious Freedom at the Department of State to be ended, or at the very least diminished in their roles. They have argued that the movement as a whole as not accomplished anything meaningful since the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which founded both USCIRF and the State Department offices. In reality, these claims are baseless and ignore countries like Sudan (and many others) which have made major changes in their domestic religious freedom space to move their governments away from oppressive policy to greater individual freedoms in religious disposition.
The Trump administration pioneered the annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom as well as the International Religious Freedom Alliance. The administration also worked very closely with civil society on a weekly basis through the International Religious Freedom Roundtable.
While the Biden Administration will make some changes, it is likely that the work of the Trump administration will serve as the grounding for further advancements in religious freedom around the world.
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