State Department’s LGBTI Envoy Generates Controversy

RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVES EXPRESS DISMAY OVER BERRY’S RETENTION

The Trump administration continues to baffle key members of his conservative base with his decisions on LGBT issues.

The most recent example came on Monday, when the State Department announced that Randy Berry would continue to be the special envoy for the human rights of LGBTI persons. President Obama created the position in 2014, to the dismay of and widespread criticism from conservatives.

According to a report from Religion News Service, “The conservative Family Research Council (FRC) had made removing such ‘activists’ a priority and as recently as December called on the State Department to rid itself of employees who promote an ‘anti-family, anti-life agenda.’”

FRC President Tony Perkins called Trump’s decision “a disappointing development.” He issued a statement on Tuesday, saying the administration should focus on “Christian persecution and genocide,” not gay rights.

“Keeping Berry only signals to the world that the extreme agenda of the Obama years is still deeply entrenched in the State Department,” Perkins concluded.

Writing for The American Conservative, Rod Dreher said, “Does Donald Trump wish to continue funding America’s culture war mercenaries abroad?  The signs do not look good. . . . At some point, I’m betting that conservative Christians are going to wake up and realize that they’ve been played for chumps.”

The retention of Berry is the second decision in a month that has upset Christian conservatives, a constituency that helped Trump win the White House. Last month Trump announced he would retain an Obama decision to provide special protections for LGBT federal workers. The announcement read in part as follows: “President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of L.G.B.T.Q. rights, just as he was throughout the election. The president is proud to have been the first ever G.O.P. nominee to mention the L.G.B.T.Q. community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”

Meantime, pastors around the world are expressing concern at the administration’s decision. According to WORLD, “Nearly 300 Caribbean ministers and church leaders have urged President Donald Trump to end U.S. efforts to export the LGBT agenda.” In a Jan. 31 letter, pastors from the Bahamas, Guyana, St. Maarten, St. Vincent, and Trinidad and Tobago pointed out that “the Obama administration’s State Department deployed coercive measures to normalize same-sex marriage and elevate LGBT issues at the expense of human rights.”

The pastors went on to write: “It is not only the view of our Christian churches but the testimony of the recorded history of millennia of civilization that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Why should we be forced to believe otherwise?”

Let us hope they won’t be.

Image courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto at Thinkstock by Getty Images.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.


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