GRAPEVINE, Texas — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reflected on his efforts to further religious freedom and promote peace during his time serving under the Trump administration and vowed to “stay in this important fight that we are all in for the soul of our country.”
“One of the things that I'm most proud of that we did is that we addressed the world that we saw, not the one we wished existed. We were very realistic about the things we could have an impact on,” Pompeo told Jewish-evangelical author Joel C. Rosenberg during a Thursday morning interview at the annual National Religious Broadcasters convention.
From addressing the Middle East to condemning the “true evil of the Chinese Communist Party,” the former CIA director said the Trump administration sought to identify and condemn human rights abuses around the world and promote religious liberty.
“When a nation won’t protect its own, when it puts a million Muslims in camps and forces abortions, forces sterilizations, imprisons them, separates [them] from their family, when it knocks down Christian churches inside of its own country and abuses Catholic leaders … what we did as a foreign policy matter was recognize that evil [and] call it out. So I declared that genocide was taking place and is ongoing inside of China,” he said.
“We did the same thing with the Iranians: We recognized that you should listen to the things they say, observe the actions that they take, and that we should have an understanding of the dignity of every human being because they're created in the image of God. Those nations that refuse to acknowledge that, we should watch them.”
“We should be prepared to make sure we not only defend ourselves but make sure that problems don't occur someplace else,” he added, stressing the importance of putting “America first.”
Pompeo, who served under Trump for four years, also reflected on the administration’s “crushing defeat” of the Islamic State in the Middle East.
“Among the first things that we did was to take down this threat to the United States that came from radical Islamic terrorism. They had a territory roughly the size of Delaware, and we eliminated it,” he said. “So we worked diligently, we began to build out to religious freedom efforts, protection of Christians in Iraq, and then we turned to the larger set of issues.”
But the Biden administration, he said, has a “different take” on how to address conflicts in the Middle East.
“They are sitting in Vienna, if not today, [then] next week, working with the Iranian regime to create a pathway for Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” Pompeo said. “… That is absolutely staggering. It’s bad for our friend and ally, Israel, it’s bad for the Gulf states, and it’s really bad for the United States as well.”
Iran’s regime is “not going to change their ways with carrots,” he emphasized, noting that the Trump administration left the country “more isolated when we left office than they had ever been in their history.”
“The Iranian people are a glorious, wonderful [people]. If you studied Persia at all, you know these are really good people. And they’re being ruled over by an elite revolutionary class that has destroyed not only them but puts real risks in the region as well,” he said.
Pompeo, who is the first American to have served as both secretary of state and director of the CIA, revealed he was regularly asked how he remained in the Trump administration for all four years when the national security area continually changed.
“It was easy for me; I knew my place,” he said. “I knew I worked for him. My mission was unambiguously clear: Go out and make the world safer for the United States of America.”
Resigning, he said, “never occurred” to him “because I knew two things. One, as a Christian believer, I believe that the Lord had given me this incredible opportunity. And I was going to do my best every day not to screw it up. … The second [was] I knew I was on this important mission.”
During the interview, Pompeo drew rounds of applause and standing ovations from the crowd gathered at the NRB. The group’s CEO, Troy Miller, presented the Kansas native with the NRB’s “President’s Award” for efforts to promote religious freedom worldwide.
An evangelical Christian and former Sunday school teacher, Pompeo assured the NRB audience he will “stay in this important fight that we are all in for the soul of our country.”
He asked supporters to pray that he stays in “the right place for me to be able to listen to the Lord, to surrender myself to the Lord, so that I can listen well.”
Pompeo also urged attendees to “pray to for leaders … who are prepared to lay down their animosity, their historic grievances, and build out peace and permit their people to worship in the way they want.”
“If we can get a little bit more of that then my time on Earth will have been useful,” he concluded.
The NRB 2021 Christian Media Convention was held June 21-24 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine.