WASHINGTON, DC – In an exclusive interview with CBN News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says it's "deeply troubling" that a handful of congressional Democrats blame America for the problems around the world. "When a handful of members of Congress say things, that are in the tone of the fact that they blame America for so much of the trouble in the world, that's deeply troubling."
"We are a force for good in the world, not a force for evil. We are not the cause of these conflicts and I hear these member of Congress talk about this as if America had generated this trouble, and to blame America first for these things is deeply inconsistent with not only our founding and our tradition, but with the facts on the ground," he said.
The comments by Pompeo come on the heels of President Trump's recent remarks where he told certain far left freshman Democratic congresswomen and others to leave the country if they don't like America. His original tweet referenced certain "Progressive" congresswomen, saying they should "go back" to their countries if they didn't like it here. That brought up accusations by Democrats that the president is racist. Pompeo, who is close to Trump, said absolutely not.
"Never seen it, not once," he told CBN News. "Each and every time we've talked about a particularly difficult situation or how to respond to a threat that's imposed on us, it's been about data and facts, coming up with a set of policy options that are achievable. That is, we believe you have to be realistic; you have to take the world as it is. You can't pretend that something else is going to transpire; that you know is very unlikely. And we've worked on that, and he's done this in every country. He's done this regardless of the race of individuals in that country, the religion, it is about delivering these good outcomes."
The interview with Secretary Pompeo took place Tuesday morning at the US State Department as the Trump administration begins the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Faith leaders from all over the world have come to the State Department in an effort to address worldwide religious persecution and discrimination.
"We know we're blessed here, it's our first freedom, enshrined in the US Constitution," Pompeo tells CBN News from the Treaty Room at the State Department. "But that's not the case everywhere, and our mission set is to highlight its importance, to educate leaders around the world about how important this is, how it can make our country better and stronger, if you'll allow people of every faith to practice their faith, or if they choose not to, fine too. And it's a wonderful opportunity."
Pompeo is a Christian and his faith is central to his life. He says it compels him to act on behalf of those facing religious persecution, no matter their faith. "As a Christian, I, we have these fundamental understandings from the Bible that talk about how you treat other human beings," he says. "So whether it's the capacity to practice your faith as a Jew in a country around the world, or your ability to be a faithful practitioner of Islam somewhere in a country that you're a minority, Christians believe that that faith right, different from mine, but nonetheless your expression of your faith, fundamentally has a right to be expressed."
While religious persecution is on the rise worldwide, the number of refugees allowed into the US because of it is much lower than in previous administrations. The cap is set at 30,000 refugees allowed into the United States this year. It's been close to an average of 80,000 a year in past administrations.
"We're still the most generous, welcoming nation anywhere in the world," Pompeo tells CBN News. "Our objective has been to try and do what those people really want in those cases which is to stay in their own country. So our approach for Christians in the Middle East and for other people who are being religiously persecuted around the world, our mission set is to try and create the conditions inside their own countries so that they can have that religious freedom, there'll be no need to leave their country, their friends, their people, their church, their synagogue, their mosque."
The State Department is also creating a new Commission on Unalienable Rights. "I'm really excited about what we're going to do with this commission," says Pompeo. But liberal human rights groups and other liberal advocacy groups are concerned about the stated goal, which is to define what human rights actually mean. Those groups believe that could mean a rollback of certain rights for women and minority groups. "When you start to say that all, thousands of things are rights, it diminishes these most fundamental freedoms," Pompeo tells CBN News. "It diminishes these essential rights, the right to freedom of worship, the most powerful things that each create our dignity as human beings. And so we're going to go take a good look at that. We're going to ground it in the founding fathers' understanding. We're going to ground it in our Constitution."
A complete story on the conference and religious freedom will air Wednesday across the country on The 700 Club.