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Biden Administration shifts focus away from religious freedom wordlwide

A rise in international religious persecution is expected as the Biden administration backs away from promoting religious freedom abroad, despite progress made by the Trump administration. In March, Secretary of State Antony Blinken overturned an executive order signed under the Trump administration that required federal agencies to “prioritise international religious freedom in the planning and implementation of United States foreign policy.”


The current administration is taking a broader approach and does not want to appear to be giving certain issues precedent over others. Lisa Peterson, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, claimed that there is a standalone report on international religious freedom separate from the 2020 country reports on human rights practices. While Peterson and her colleagues are “deeply concerned” about questions on religious freedom, they will have to focus on the bigger picture of human rights.

“Certainly you can look at examples and see where governments who have gone down a wrong road on religious freedom subsequently go down a wrong road on other issues,” Peterson said.

Olivia Enos, a senior policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, has expressed concern with the way the administration is handling its approach to the issue and has expressed that the decision to focus on the broader human rights issue would just “hamper its broader foreign policy interests and human rights commitments.”

“I think it would be a huge mistake for the Biden administration not to build momentum from the work done by the Trump administration to promote religious freedom.” Enos said.


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