Today marks President Biden's first month in office. One of the main interests we have at the Catholic League is tracking how various administrations handle the issue of human rights. Though it is very early in his first term, some things are becoming quite clear.
President Biden used his first day in office to discuss human rights. However, he did not speak to this issue in a broad manner; rather, he limited his discussion to the rights of homosexuals and transgender persons. This tells us a great deal about his priorities.
The following are indicative of Biden's fixation on the LGBT agenda:
On Inauguration Day, President Biden signed an executive order requiring all federal agencies to expand discrimination protections to include sex and gender. He said that "children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports." In doing so he affirmed his administration's decision to allow biological males to compete against girls in athletics, and to share shower facilities with them.
President Biden's Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was committed to taking numerous steps to prioritize the rights of what he called LGBTQI persons abroad. Before his confirmation, Blinken vowed to fill an LGBTQI envoy at the United Nations as well as to allow U.S. embassies abroad to fly the LGBTQI pride flag.
President Biden signed an executive order on Feb. 4 to increase the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. As part of this order, his administration will give greater access to asylum for refugees based on their sexual orientation and gender.
In a speech to the State Department on Feb. 4, President Biden said his administration will "reinvigorate our leadership on LGBTQI issues and do it internationally." He did not explain what the "I" means.
That same day, Biden issued a memorandum saying he wanted to "lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world." He did not explain what the "+" means. No matter, he made it plain that his interest in this subject extends far beyond efforts to combat discrimination. He wants an activist campaign that encourages foreign aid programs abroad to promote the agenda of the LGBT community. This directive could potentially limit the federal funding that religious organizations receive.
In contrast to Biden's obsession with the rights of sexual minorities is his total disinterest in the rights of Christians. We researched his directives and executive orders on the human rights of Christians, especially abroad. We couldn't find any.
Yet there are multiple reports, issued by prominent human rights organizations, on Christian persecution throughout the world that have recently been released. In particular, the report by Open Doors, "2021 World Watch List," and Freedom House, "The Battle for China's Spirit," are rich with detail.
Here are some of their key findings:
The persecution of Christians is on the rise. For example, in 2020 more than 340 million people faced maltreatment, victimization and oppression for their faith in Christ. A total of 4,761 Christians were martyred. Every day, on average, 13 Christians were killed, 12 churches or Christian buildings were attacked, and 12 Christians were unjustly arrested or imprisoned.
The Middle East, Africa and China are the regions where there is the most persecution of Christians.
The leading causes for the persecution of Christians are repressive regimes, leftist or communist ideologies, weak states, and Islamism.
[To read an excellent overview of Christian persecution abroad, written by our director of communications, Mike McDonald, click here.]
It is unsettling to read how Biden is handling the issue of human rights. Indeed, it raises several questions.
Why would our second Catholic president totally disregard the human rights abuses suffered by Christians abroad? He must know, or should know, that Christians are being slaughtered and unjustly imprisoned in record numbers—they are not the victims of mere discrimination in the workplace.
Why are the rights of LGBT people given preferential treatment over Christians and other people of faith? Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons, Muslims, and observant Jews would love to know.
Just as disturbing is the determination of the Biden administration to impose radical secular Western values on parts of the world that do not share our libertine vision of sexuality.
Whatever happened to respect for diversity? Aren't we supposed to respect the cultural norms and values of other peoples? Why are we engaging in ideological imperialism, shoving our twisted ideas of sexuality down the throats of Africans, Asians, and Muslims?
Biden's selective interest in human rights is disturbing. It also suggests that the rights of Christians at home—such as the Little Sisters of the Poor—count less than the rights of males and females who are sexually confused. To put it mildly, our "devout Catholic" president has gotten off to a bad start on human rights.
Bill Donohue is president and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation's largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of eight books and many articles.