The U.S. Senate this week adopted an amendment by U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-OK) that would require the Executive Branch to take religious freedom into consideration when negotiating trade agreements. In presenting his legislation to the Senate, Senator Lankford said, “Our greatest export is our American value - The dignity of each person, hard work, innovation, and liberty. That's what we send around the world. It has the greatest impact.”
Immediately in focus with this amendment to the Trade Promotion Authority bill is the involvement of Vietnam in the ongoing and much-debated Trans-Pacific Partnership trade talks. The communist government in Vietnam has been cited by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom for working to “control all religious activities through law and administrative oversight, restrict severely independent religious practice, and repress individuals and religious groups it views as challenging its authority.”
Senator Lankford continued, “We believe every person should have the protection of the government to live their faith, not the compulsion of government to practice any one faith or to be forced to reject all faith altogether.”
This religious freedom amendment passed by a 92-0 vote.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: May 22, 2015