Evangelical Leader Tony Perkins on Syria Withdrawal: 'Bad Decision' May Hurt President's Support


Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, voiced his disapproval of President Donald Trump’s decision to remove U.S. troops from northeast Syria, saying it threatens the safety of Christians and the religious liberty of many in the region.

The faith leader also noted in a Tuesday interview with CBN News that evangelical leaders “almost without exception” oppose the change in policy.

“We’re very concerned about the implications this has for religious freedom in northeast Syria,” said Perkins, who also serves as chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, a government entity that monitors overseas threats to the freedom of religion.

“What’s happened there because of ISIS, a byproduct of that, is people of different backgrounds Kurds, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis came together out of necessity, formed their own government,” he said.

They have adopted a charter of religious liberty.

Jaw-Dropper: A Reported 4x as Many Local Secret Service Agents Sent to Jill Biden on Same Day Trump Was Shot

“Religious freedom of the American sort,” Perkins said, “meaning that you can not only believe a certain way, but you can practice that faith and you can change your faith, which is very unique outside of Israel in the Middle East.”

All this could now be in jeopardy, he said.

Do you approve of President Trump's decision to remove U.S. troops from northern Syria?

“With the withdrawal of U.S presence there, this opens up to Turkey to come in after the Kurds,” Perkins said. “The Kurds have been kind of providing the protection to the Christians and the others in that region, so I’m very concerned about the implications for religious freedom.”

“We’re just maintaining what we’ve already gained over the last decade, so to withdraw now before this has taken root, and they’re able to provide the type of security internally there in Syria, just a bad decision,” the Marine Corps veteran argued.

When CBN News “Faith Nation” host Jenna Browder asked whether he and other evangelicals have pressured the president to change course, Perkins responded that he wouldn’t characterize it that way.

“We’re advocating for what we believe to be the right policy,” he said. “Whether the president hears it or not, we’re going to speak it. I have to say, I was very encouraged not to be the only voice on this. Almost without exception, evangelical leaders and others have spoken out about this policy.”

Browder than asked if this decision will hurt Trump’s evangelical base.

“I don’t know. I hope the president will do the right thing, will maintain this small presence of U.S. military forces,” Perkins said.

Popular Christian Podcast Host Sensed Trump's Safety Was in Peril, Urged Listeners to Pray Starting in Early July

“[The Trump administration’s] record on religious freedom is unmatched, so this is perplexing for many,” Perkins added.

“But here’s the thing. We have deep respect and appreciation for what this president does. I pray for him every day, but I have an obligation, as do other evangelical leaders to speak out for what we know to be right and to speak out in defense of others.”

Among those evangelical leaders who have spoken out are Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson, the chairman of the Christian Broadcasting Network.

Graham tweeted on Wednesday that he was “deeply concerned” that the U.S. was “abandoning our closes allies” in Syria the Kurdish people.

“The Kurds are the ones who have been leading the fight against ISIS in Syria,” Graham wrote.

“Also pray for the Christians who the Kurds have been protecting. They could be annihilated. Would you pray w/me that Pres. @realDonaldTrump will reconsider? Thousands of lives hang in the balance.”

On Monday, Robertson said on CBN’s “700 Club” that he is “absolutely appalled that the United States is going to betray those democratic forces in northern Syria, that we possibly are going to allow the Turkish to come in against the Kurds.”

“The president, who allowed [Washington Post journalist Jamal] Khashoggi to be cut in pieces without any repercussions whatsoever, is now allowing the Christians and the Kurds to be massacred by the Turks,” Robertson said.

“And I believe — and I want to say this with great solemnity — the President of the United States is in danger of losing the mandate of heaven if he permits this to happen.”

Travis Weber, FRC’s vice president for policy and government affairs, told The Western Journal there are some compelling reasons evangelicals are so opposed to the U.S. pulling out of northeast Syria at this time.

“Christians are both in support of protecting their fellow persecuted brothers and sisters overseas and supporting religious freedom where it is in the world,” he said.

Weber further argued it was a matter of America conducting its affairs with integrity and honoring our commitments to the Kurds and others in the region.

“ISIS is still alive in Syria,” he said. “They’re not going away and this will only cause their numbers to surge and once again become more visible and grow and will inflame ISIS power once again in the Middle East.”

Trump tweeted on Wednesday that “going into the Middle East is the worst decision ever made in the history of our country,” citing the trillions of tax dollars spent and thousands of American soldiers killed and wounded.

“Now we are slowly & carefully bringing our great soldiers & military home,” he wrote.

The Family Research Council announced Wednesday that Trump will address its annual Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. this weekend.

Trump will be the keynote speaker at Saturday night’s Faith, Family and Freedom Gala, during which the FRC will also honor Pastor Andrew Brunson, who the Trump administration successfully negotiated to be released from a Turkish prison in October 2018.

The president will almost certainly use the occasion to address the concerns that Perkins and other evangelicals have about his withdrawal of troops from northeast Syria.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , , , , , , ,
Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith