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'Religious Freedom Is the First Freedom': Trump's Pick to Fight for Religious Liberty

'Religious Freedom Is the First Freedom': Trump's Pick to Fight for Religious Liberty Read Transcript

David Curry is president and CEO

of Open Doors USA, an organization that

supports persecuted Christians worldwide.

And he joins us now to talk about President Trump's choice

of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback as Religious Freedom


Mr. Curry, thanks a lot for joining us today.

Thank you for having me on.

So what is your take on Sam Brownback?

What kind of choice is he for this position?

Well I feel like he's an inspired choice.

We've been waiting for this nomination for some time.

In fact, it's come a little slow.

But he's such a strong choice for this position of Ambassador

for Religious Freedom that we just are very excited about,

because I think this gives us a unique spokesman

on these critical issues to Christians and people

who are concerned about religious freedom

around the world.

What in particular do you like about him?

Well I like that he has a strong background in this.

When he was in the Senate, he was the co-chair

of the Human Rights Caucus.

He spoke out.

He traveled to places like Sudan, Rwanda, the Congo.

So he knows these troubled regions.

He's been out and in front on a couple of tough issues.

In '98, he was a co-sponsor of the bill

that helped create this position within the State Department.

He's been a strong proponent of religious freedom

for a long time.

And I think Governor Brownback is going

to be excellent at this role.

I'm really excited about it.

Do you see this post as being significant?

I mean, is there much that he can do in this post?

Well historically, it's been a little bit of everything.

When the president has wanted to make this position less

central, they push them down into the basement

of the State Department.

What I'm hoping is that with Governor Brownback's

prime reputation, that he will be

in direct access with Secretary Tillerson, with the president.

I think it's going to elevate that position

and make this the critical position that it really

needs to be, because these issues are central to what's

going on around the world--

the Middle East, Asia.

It's all about religious freedom.

These are tipping point issues into greater crises

around the world.

And we need a spokesman who's taken the point on this.

And I think Governor Brownback will do an excellent job at it.

You mentioned the appointment has been slow and coming.

How much of a concern is that?

Well it's a concern.

And I've been critical of the administration

for taking so long on such a critical position.

But I want to affirm them that they took the time,

but they did it right.

And they found the right person for the job.

At this point in time, you know, it sounds like--

or it seems like-- it's a well-kept secret, if you will--

you know, persecution around the globe.

What, in particular, would you like

to see him focus on right now?

Well, I mean, you're right.

It is a well-kept secret.

I'm not sure why that is.

Of every 12 Christians, one is persecuted around the world.

Well 200 million Christians are persecuted for their faith,

live in oppression.

You think of the Middle East, China, Asia--

it's a massive problem.

And depending on who you ask, if you look at Pew Research,

they back it up as well.

So it's a major issue.

We want to see this brought to the forefront.

In trade deals, we had deals with India and Saudi Arabia.

This wasn't talked about.

What's happening in these countries

that we're doing business with?

I believe the ambassador will be able to help with this.

Well that's very interesting too,

because the president prides himself on his ability

to make a deal, if you will.

So it would seem that perhaps that would

be a good pairing in the middle of these deals working

on the persecution issue.

Any particular countries or areas that you would hope

would be focused on?

Well, of course, we have rogue nations around the world--

North Korea, Eritrea-- which are major persecutors

of Christians.

But I think it's a great place to start with our trading

partners-- people like Vietnam, India, Saudi Arabia, as I

mentioned, Uzbekistan, that does a lot of trade

with industries around the world in cotton.

There are things that we can do with people

who are players in the international community

that we're not doing yet.

And they're restricting their people's religious freedom--

freedom of conscious.

The ability to believe what you want

is so central to what we are all about as human beings.

Yet the majority of the world doesn't have that.

They are born in a certain faith,

and they are forced to keep it.

Imagine that.

Well, it's a hopeful time, I think,

in the midst of all of this going.

David Curry, thanks so much for your insights and your time.

Thank you for having me.


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