“As history attests, a country that oppresses its own people rarely stops there. Beijing also aims to extend its reach across the wider world,” Pence warned.
The vice president has explicitly linked these positions to his theological beliefs. He’s noted, for example, that religious freedom “is endowed not by government, but by our Creator” and is therefore the right of “all people so endowed” rather than some special American inheritance. And he’s stated that the persecution of Christians anywhere in the world bears witness to the truth of the Gospel, pointing to the biblical passage that “all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
But as a result, Pence’s conception of American values is largely focused on religious freedom, particularly the freedom of Christians, and dismissive of some other liberties. For instance, as a congressman, Pence opposed a foreign-relations bill on the grounds that it promoted “a set of values,” such as “abortion rights overseas” and “changes in laws regarding homosexuality around the world,” that “are at odds with the majority of the American people” and thus don’t qualify as “universally recognized human rights.” As vice president, he endorsed Trump’s restoration of a policy prohibiting U.S. foreign assistance to organizations that advocate for abortion rights or offer abortion counseling and related services.
Read: God’s plan for Mike Pence
As Pence tells it, free worship is the key to a freer and safer world. “When religious liberty is denied or destroyed, we know that other freedoms—freedom of speech, of press, assembly, and even democratic institutions themselves—are imperiled,” he declared during a religious-freedom summit the administration organized in July. “Those nations that reject religious freedom breed radicalism and resentment in their citizens. They sow the seeds of violence within their borders—violence that often spills over into their neighbors and across the world.”
And Pence argues that his own flock is more endangered than any other religion. This has prompted the vice president to help direct tens of millions of dollars in U.S. aid to Christians and other minorities in Iraq, and to use the term genocide in describing ISIS’s assault on Christians (he did not mention that word when discussing the fate of the Rohingya with Suu Kyi). “Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ,” Pence has asserted.
“After this great nation secured our independence, the American Founders enshrined religious freedom as the first freedom in the Constitution of the United States,” Pence noted in the July speech.
Then he quoted George Washington’s letter to a Jewish congregation in Rhode Island. U.S. policy was “worthy of imitation,” the first president had observed, because the U.S. government “gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”