Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Remarks at the Florida Family Policy Council Dinner Gala: “Respecting Life in America’s Foreign Policy”
SECRETARY POMPEO: Well, good evening, everyone. Good evening to all my friends in Florida! I can hear the applause all the way up I-95.
And I know many of you came from all across the state to be with this great group tonight – from Pensacola, to Pinellas County, to Palm Beach.
I am terribly sorry I can’t be with you in person. I can tell you’re all having a good time and doing amazing work alongside of that, too. Out of an abundance of caution, I thought I’d be better to be with you virtually.
It wasn’t the plan that we drew up, but that’s certainly been 2020. You should know that I’m feeling fine, I’m doing great. I’ve been tested twice in two days. I’m as healthy as I’ve been. And I intend still – I have a trip that I’m planning to take to Asia tomorrow.
I had a chance to speak to the Vice President a few minutes ago. We’re – everything is in good order. I hope that you will all join me in praying for the speedy recovery of President Trump and our First Lady Melania as well.
Congressman Steube, thank you for the generous introduction and for your service to our country. Your service in the military predated mine by – or postdated mine by a little bit, as did your time in Congress. I know you’re serving America quite ably. Thanks so much for your very, very kind introduction.
John, I want to thank you – John Stemberger – I want to thank you and the Family Policy Council of Florida for your incredibly principled leadership. My wife and I taught Sunday school back in Wichita, Kansas not too many years ago. We know of your organization. We know of organizations like it all across America that are truly doing important work on behalf of the Lord and on behalf of the people of Florida as well.
I was – I was last in the Sunshine State back in January. I was speaking at the Sumter County Fairgrounds in Bushnell, back over in horse country.
It was really fun that day to be with so many patriots. It reminded me – it reminded me that no matter where I go in the world, speaking with the American people is still my greatest privilege. And so I’m just happy to be with you tonight even if it’s by video.
Look, I’ve been traveling as the Secretary of State and all across the world, but I’ve been traveling a lot in America, too. I want the American people to know what their State Department is doing for them and how the Trump administration is executing its diplomatic mission all across the world on behalf of the American people. I was in Wisconsin last week, I was in Texas, and I’ve been traveling, talking about the good work that our diplomats are doing all across the world. And tonight, I want to talk about an important part of that.
Indeed, I just got back from Europe, where I went to the Vatican to talk about this very set of issues.
And in Brazil, now just two weeks back, I saw America’s goodness at work.
I went to a town called Boa Vista just on the – off the Venezuelan border. I watched for myself how we’re helping – Americans are helping those fleeing the socialist nightmare that is Venezuela today. Some of you in the audience probably still have family members there.
It was heartening to see our good work, but it was sobering, completely sobering, to see men and women and children seeking medical care, seeking reunification with family members who had already fled from the horrors or Venezuela, looking for basic food and shelter, just the simple things that we all need to sustain.
I had the chance to speak with one man – it was a father of a couple of kids – I had a chance to hear his story. He kept thanking God over and over for delivering him and his family from the sheer misery that has become Venezuela, and I was thanking God along with him.
The truth is, I don’t think he would have been this way with the Chinese foreign minister or the Russian foreign minister.
He was with America’s Secretary of State. And he knew he was talking to the representative of a country that respects every single life.
And that’s what I want to talk about this evening, this piece of our work at the State Department.
You know, moments like that remind me that as Secretary of State, I represent the nation with the most special set of founding principles in all of recorded history.
And they compel every one our leaders to respect life.
The Declaration of Independence tells us that “all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among [them] are [the right to] life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
If you go back and read the Federalist Papers, it’s pretty clear: Our Founders knew God himself grants all human beings a very essential dignity.
And we as a nation and our State Department are exceptional because we use our power – our foreign policy power – to honor that dignity, when so many countries choose to execute their power and use their power in far different ways.
Look, we’ve done this for decades. America is truly a light to the world.
But this administration has been unique; it’s been special. Our administration has drawn on our first principles to defend life in our foreign policy like no administration in all of history. Look no further than our unprecedented defense of the unborn abroad.
You know, this is a very personal issue for me.
Some years ago, long before I had been a member of the Executive Branch, the Pompeo family was made complete when my sister adopted two beautiful gifts of life – my niece Emily and my nephew James.
Now, it was never a doubt in my mind that life begins at conception – my faith teaches me that, and I think everyone here tonight agrees with that.
But my sister’s incredible love refreshed my view on how precious life is – two mothers that made wonderful choices.
Now, back to what we’ve done at the State Department, because you’ll never read about it much in the papers or hear our accomplishments reported a whole lot on TV:
We brought what’s called the Mexico City policy under President Trump. It makes sure that none of your money, none of your taxpayer money will ever go to any foreign entity or a non-governmental organization that performs or actively promotes abortion for family planning. It would be unacceptable to permit that to happen. (Applause.)
And last year – last year, for the first time in history, as the Secretary of State I made clear that we won’t fund any foreign non-governmental organization that gives money to other foreign entities in the global abortion industry.
We are using every element of federal law to prohibit the use of the State Department funds to lobby on behalf of abortion, and it’s successful.
Last year – a good example – Secretary Azar at the Health and Human Services, he and I rallied 20 countries to deliver a joint statement to condemn pro-abortion language that continued to slip into UN documents.
We said clearly: “There is no international right to abortion.” None. That’s different; it’s special. It’s what President Trump’s leadership demands.
After we released that statement, one of our colleagues at HHS received an email from an African friend in the pro-life movement.
She said, quote, “Never did I think that America – that America would use its great power to speak for the protection of the unborn in the most unambiguous and unapologetic terms.”
But America is special. America is special because we respect life.
Now, we need your help. Pro-abortion organizations are funding and lobbying for abortion internationally, just as they as they do here at home.
We need every one of you who’s in attendance tonight – we need you to use your networks and platforms to fight back against these pressures.
We need you to applaud other governments when they courageously stand for life alongside the United States of America.
All in all, we need you to tell the world the truth: Abortion is not a human right…it takes a human life. (Applause.)
There’s a second area – there is a second area I’m proud of in respect to our work for life: defending religious freedom. The congressman spoke about that.
There’s good reason for this; it’s incredibly important. Religious freedom is our “first freedom.” When we, each of us, can worship freely and openly discuss the eternal questions of the soul, we can understand how we ought to live our lives – both individually and as a society.
Just this past week – I mentioned – I was in Rome meeting with senior Vatican officials. I urged the Church to be a bold moral witness in defense of religious freedom, especially regarding China and the Chinese Communist Party’s staggering abuses.
I’m sure some of you have seen the list, but the reporters don’t like to talk about this much today:
One million or more Uyghurs and other Muslims are held in internment camps that rival the worst abuses that happened a century ago in Europe.
Even as you sit in this beautiful place tonight with this great group people, Christians in China are being ordered to replace pictures of Jesus with pictures of Chairman Mao.
Indeed, the peaceful Falun Gong movement banned, its practitioners frequently jailed.
We in the Trump administration have spoken up about these abuses. We’ve taken action against those responsible. And importantly, we’ve rallied our friends and allies around the world to do the same. We’ve not led from behind – we’ve led from the front on this incredibly important moral issue.
But as I said when I was in Rome, the government can only do so much. We need faith leaders – and I know there are many of you in the audience there tonight – we need faith leaders of all religions to denounce violations of religious freedom whenever and wherever they occur.
A story: You know, using one’s power as a religious leader is exactly a man named Father Bernhard Lichtenberg did. It’s a great story. He was a priest in Berlin in the 1930s. He was disgusted by the Nazi persecution of Jews.
After Kristallnacht, he began to pray publicly every day from his pulpit for Jews and other oppressed groups. The Nazis sentenced him to prison and he died before reaching his final destination – the Dachau concentration camp.
But let’s all follow Father Lichtenberg’s example and speak up fearlessly for religious freedom. It’s our duty; it’s the right thing to do. This administration will do it each and every day.
Now one last point: Our administration knows that respecting life in foreign policy means prioritizing the protection of our own people – America first.
We’ve worked to reduce nuclear risk here in America from North Korea. And we’ve brought back our citizens from that country as well.
We’ve worked with Mexico and countries in Central America to control illegal immigration and fix a completely broken asylum-seeking process.
And we took out the leader of ISIS and the Iranian thug Qasem Soleimani – for my money, the world’s worst terrorist – keeping those of us here at home free to exercise our God-given rights.
But I want to say this again: America is special because we don’t just protect our own people…we help other nations protect the lives of their own people, too.
It’s what we did when we helped craft the Abraham Accords. The representative – congressman spoke about that. This is the greatest step forward for peace in the Middle East in a generation. We flipped the switch. We took 40 years of history where people said you can’t get peace to the Middle East until you resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people. We said you could do this a different way. We could improve security for Israel. We could make the region safer. We could decrease instability.
It was really very simple. On one side of the equation you have the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain – countries that know the basic idea that normalized relations in the Middle East actually help people live in peace and in security. We expect there’ll be more countries join this side, too, and soon.
On the other side of the equation you have the Islamic Republic of Iran, responsible for untold bloodshed across the region – not to mention inside its own borders – indeed killing of many Americans who fought there so valiantly in Iraq. And it has spilt plenty of American blood, too over years and years all across the globe.
Look, the Abraham Accords mark which countries in the region – even in spite of some big differences – are sincere about cooperating to reduce risk to the lives of their citizens.
Iran and its terrorist lackeys are on the outside looking in. They’re more isolated than ever. The region and the world see which nations are serious about respecting life.
At the center of this new grouping is the only nation that could have pulled this together diplomatically – the greatest champion of life at all, the United States of America.
As I close tonight, I want to leave you with this: Being America’s Secretary of State has reinforced how much the world watches America, watches America to see if we’re leading.
And I’m convinced more than ever:
We must go where others fear to tread.
We must speak up when others choose to stay silent.
We must let our light shine when others keep it under a bushel.
This can be a hard mission. So much of what the world – disdains this respect for life in action.
But I’m not alone in my work. Neither is President Trump.
Every morning when I arrive at the State Department, I get out of my vehicle, I take about a 20-second ride up the elevator to my office.
I use that time each day to ask the Lord’s help for the day. I reach out in prayer to have him help me live in his grace and do things that he asks us all to do.
Tonight I want to ask for your prayers, too, and I’ll be sure to say one myself for each and every one of you who are part of the Policy Council that is doing such amazing work.
With faith in God and our people, we’ll continue to lead on respecting life as only America can.
May God bless you.
May God bless Florida.
May God bless the United States of America.
Thank you all so much. (Applause.)
MR STEMBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. What a privilege it was to have met you in that Lake Sumter tent revival we were at, and thank you for taking the time to address us here. If you don’t mind, we’re – it’s our tradition as an organization to pray for officials that address us or that we get to interact with, so we’re going to do that right now as the scripture commands us.
I want to introduce Kevin Baird who is the director of pastoral ministries, and so we’re just going to pray for you know and ask the Lord to bless you and protect you. So thank you very much —
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you.
MR STEMBERGER: — for being with us tonight.
MR BAIRD: And those of us that have gathered, if you’d just extend your hand toward the Secretary of State on the screen as we pray.
Our Father, we lift up Secretary Pompeo. We thank you for his life. We thank you for his leadership. We thank you that it transcends even our own nation and across the globe. We thank you that he carries truth and a voice to be able to influence nations in righteousness. And our heart was gladdened as we listened to the report as to what was taking place all across the world. And now, Lord, we ask that you would help him and bless him. Give him and his team great wisdom, I ask. I pray for both he and his family that you would keep them healthy in these days, pray that you would protect him and give them safety as they travel.
We ask, oh Lord, that you would continue to grant him favor in all that he is endeavoring to do, and let him know that there are those that are lifting him up, not only now but on a daily basis, that he would accomplish the great tasks that you have called him to do. We bless him with every good thing as we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Amen.
MR STEMBERGER: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. Thank you, John.