The Trump administration is celebrated by many Christians for its robust defense of religious liberty. From publishing federal guidance on religious expression in public schools to directing the State Department to allocate USAID funding to international religious liberty initiatives to appointing Supreme Court justices many Christians hope will safeguard their freedom to practice their faith, the president has drawn accolades from many conservative Christians for strengthening First Amendment protections. “I’ve done so much for religion,” the president recently commented in an interview with Newsmax.
Yet research our organization recently conducted with Open Doors USA, an international religious freedom watchdog group that advocates for the persecuted church, reveals an area where the White House has fallen short. Since the time of the pilgrims, America has been proud of its legacy of opening its doors to those experiencing religious persecution. The Refugee Act of 1980 formally defined a refugee as an individual who has left their country because of a credible fear of persecution based on (among other grounds) religion and allows the president to set an annual cap for refugee resettlement. Between 1980 and 2016, the average ceiling was around 95,000 and the average number of actual arrivals was 81,000 — numbers that attest to the generosity and hospitality of the American people as well as our commitment to religious freedom for all.