After speaking strongly about religious freedom as a key American foreign policy objective in February, President Obama failed to talk about the issue with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, a few weeks later. Saudi Arabia has one of the worst records on religious freedom. “The Islamic nation is ranked as No. 6 on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most severe persecution.”
The president had reaffirmed his opinion after meeting with Pope Francis. In addition, 70 members of the U.S. Congress sent an open letter to President Obama specifically asking him to address the “serious human rights violations,” with the king.
“How, despite all of this, the president could stay completely silent about religious freedom during his meeting [with the king] is remarkable,” said Todd Daniels, spokesman for International Christian Concern, a religious freedom watch group. Discussion between the two men centered on the conflict in Syria and the nuclear capabilities of Iran, but did not address human rights issues.
In Saudi Arabia “Christians there are forbidden from practicing their faith publicly, and citizens who convert from Islam to Christianity face the death penalty.”
At the prayer breakfast, President Obama said, “We know that each of us is wonderfully made in the image of God. We therefore believe in the inherent dignity of every human being – dignity that no earthly power can take away,” the U.S. president declared. “And central to that dignity is freedom of religion – the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose, to change their faith if they choose, or to practice no faith at all, and to do this free from persecution and fear.”
He added, “Promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy, and I’m proud that no nation on Earth does more to stand up for the freedom of religion around the world than the United States of America.”
“The president’s silence today in Saudi Arabia and the long running vacancies at the State Department tell us more clearly than anything else that international human rights issues and religious freedom are not at the top of this administration’s agenda,” said the ICC.
Freedom of conscience and freedom of religion is waning even in western nations like the United States. This must happen for a change to take place in the constitutional laws granting true religious freedom.
“Heretofore those who presented the truths of the third angel’s message have often been regarded as mere alarmists. Their predictions that religious intolerance would gain control in the United States, that church and state would unite to persecute those who keep the commandments of God, have been pronounced groundless and absurd. It has been confidently declared that this land could never become other than what it has been–the defender of religious freedom. But as the question of enforcing Sunday observance is widely agitated, the event so long doubted and disbelieved is seen to be approaching, and the third message will produce an effect which it could not have had before.” The Great Controversy, page 605