Evangelical leaders have voiced support for Mike Pompeo after a nationalist tabloid controlled by the Chinese Communist Party accused the secretary of state of “betraying Christianity with lies” due to his suggestion that COVID-19 originated in a Chinese laboratory.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, commented on the hypocrisy of China’s attempt to pass judgment on Pompeo’s religious beliefs given its own restrictions on religious groups.
"What audacity for a regime that persecuted Christians so viciously to try and use the Bible to cover for their own lies,” Rodriguez said in a statement to CP.
“There is no bigotry like communist bigotry. China thinks that they can shutter churches, disappear pastors, and create an ever-present state of war with religion and then dole out advice to Christians. Well, here's some advice to the Communists: get your own house in order. This propaganda only demonstrates one thing: whatever Pompeo is doing is working, exactly as intended."
On Sunday, Pompeo asserted in an interview with ABC that there's "significant evidence" the novel coronavirus first infected a human in a biomedical laboratory in Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak.
When asked if China intentionally released that virus or if it was an accident in the lab, Pompeo replied: "I can't answer your question about that because the Chinese Communist Party has refused to cooperate with world health experts."
In response, China's state-owned Global Times newspaper argued in an editorial Monday that Pompeo, an outspoken Christian, is betraying Christianity by “spreading lies or misleading the public” regarding China’s involvement in the COVID-19 outbreak.
“[H]is lying for political purposes is contrary to his label as a so-called ‘devout Christians,’” reads the editorial. “It is widely known that Christian doctrine opposes lying - it's a sin. A false witness shall not go unpunished. And he that utters lies shall perish. From the Ten Commandments, the ninth says, ‘You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.’”
Citing Pompeo’s “groundless accusations,” the editorial claims the former CIA director “has brought shame to the evangelical Christians in the US, misusing their trust in the Republican party.
“He is no doubt a degenerate politician and despicable from the perspective of religion."
Rev. Johnnie Moore, an evangelical leader and president of The Congress of Christian Leaders, said the CCP-affiliated attack “is the clearest sign yet that China knows their game is up and they are getting desperate.”
“Actually, the CCP ought to be thanking God that Secretary Pompeo is as good a Christian as he is because there’s a lot more the United States could do to hold them accountable tomorrow,” Moore told The Christian Post.
Other pastors also came to Pompeo's defense.
Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, said that having personally met Pompeo, he believes the secretary of state’s faith is “genuine and real.”
“Perhaps the Chinese government became angry with secretary Pompeo long ago because of his devoted efforts around the world to promote religious freedom, and to speak up for those being persecuted, especially within China,” he said.
Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church, applauded Pompeo for the “natural and transparent way he lives and communicates his faith strengthens his ability as a national and world leader.”
Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, said Pompeo “believes and practices his faith,” adding that the attack from Chinese media “will not cause him to back down one inch.”
Last week, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released a report recommending that the U.S. government again designate China as a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act.
USCIRF warned that "the state of religious freedom in China has continued to deteriorate" over the last year, with authorities using facial recognition and artificial intelligence to monitor religious minority groups.
The report cited China’s continued persecution of Christians as well as the imprisonment of an estimated 900,000 to 1.8 million Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyzstans, and other Muslims held in more than 1,300 concentration camps in Xinjiang.
“[China] cannot be compared to any other country in the world not only because of its inexcusable actions, but because of the way it aids and abets similar actions by other countries all around the world,” said Moore.
“Meanwhile, the international order, in pursuit of self-interest, continues to let China play by its own rules, and especially at the United Nations. This is absolutely inexcusable, and those nations around the world who ignore China’s malevolence may eventually find themselves subservient to it. It is past time for our world bodies, and our liberal democracies, to demand more from China.”