Written by Don Byrd

2nd UPDATE 5/24: In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Shaun Casey the former director of the U.S. State Dept.’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs argues for the importance of diplomatic efforts that are well-informed on matters of religion. On President Trump’s trip to the Middle East, he writes “there seemed to be no religious tutorial on the religious dynamics of each visit.”

UPDATE 5/24: In a speech at the Israel Museum, President Trump called on people of every faith to “set aside our sectarian differences, to overcome oppression and hatred, and to give all children the freedom and hope and dignity written into our souls. . . . [The summit in Saudi Arabia] represents a new opportunity for people throughout the Middle East to overcome sectarian and religious divisions, to extinguish the fires of extremism, and to find common ground and shared responsibility in making the future of this region so much better than it is right now.”

During his trip to the Middle East, President Trump spoke to the Arab Islamic American Summit in Saudi Arabia. Among other things, he discussed the ongoing effort to combat terrorism, and its relationship to religion.

Somewhat in contrast to his rhetoric as a candidate, the President called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths” and reminded that the threat of terrorism is “not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.” He did not refer to terrorism as “Islamic terrorism” or discuss is as an expression of religious belief, except as a false one.

Here is an excerpt:

Every time a terrorist murders an innocent person, and falsely invokes the name of God, it should be an insult to every person of faith.

Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.

If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing—then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.

This is a battle between Good and Evil.

When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy.

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out. DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship. DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities. DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH.

You can read the entire speech here.