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President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations about the importance of religious freedom.
Photo credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s Historic UN Speech Should Help Persecuted Homeschoolers

by Mike Donnelly • September 25, 2019

President Donald Trump engaged world leaders at the United Nations on Monday, reminding them of the need to protect and expand religious freedom and the rights of individuals to live according to their conscience.

Our hope is that this renewed focus on liberty will also champion the right of parents to educate their children according to their most deeply held convictions—a right currently denied homeschooling families in countries such as Cuba.

You can help secure freedom for persecuted homeschoolers in Cuba—like jailed homeschool father Ramón Rigal—by sending a message to leaders in the White House and State Department.

A Call for Respect

Governments in nations that suppress homeschooling, especially for ideological reasons, need to know that their policies contradict the values supported by the attendees at the United Nations’ historic event.

There, Trump was joined by statesmen such as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres, as well as other heads of state, ambassadors, and survivors of religious persecution.

The president and other speakers urged all nations to respect religious freedom and to allow people to live and act according to their sincerely held convictions.

“The United States is founded on the principle that our rights do not come from government; they come from God,” Trump said. “This immortal truth is proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Our founders understood that no right is more fundamental to a peaceful, prosperous, and virtuous society than the right to follow one’s religious convictions.”

He added: “America stands with believers in every country who ask only for the freedom to live according to the faith that is within their own hearts.”

An Obligation to Protect Freedom

The UN secretary general echoed the president’s remarks.

“It is totally unacceptable in the twenty‑first century for people to face discrimination and intimidation for their beliefs,” said Guterres. “The persecution of religious minorities is utterly intolerable. The full scope of their human rights is guaranteed, and states have an obligation to implement policies that ensure their identities are respected and that they feel fully part of society as a whole.”

He added, “it breaks my heart to see increasing numbers of individuals publicly humiliated, harassed and attacked simply because of their religion or beliefs.”

We appreciate the secretary-general’s remarks regarding the importance of religious freedom. And though HSLDA has opposed certain UN initiatives—especially treaties which threaten to undermine parental rights—we are pleased when we can agree on issues and work with this influential institution to address a global audience.

We hope President Trump’s message will help homeschooling families by encouraging countries to re-evaluate their hostile treatment of homeschooling. We also hope to see US government entities such as the State Department and Agency for International Development become more insistent and proactive in defending persecuted homeschooling families.

Convictions under Fire

Of course, families decide to homeschool for various reasons, but there is no doubt that for many, matters of faith rank very high.

Unfortunately, the same religious convictions that compel some parents to homeschool can also result in severe repercussions.

In Cuba, as we already mentioned, Pastor Ramón Rigal and his wife Adya are serving a jail sentence for homeschooling. So are fellow church members and homeschool parents Golquis Almaguer and his wife.

In other nations, such as Germany and Sweden, homeschool parents continue to face the threat of fines, jail, and having their children taken by the state.

HSLDA calls on our government to help homeschooling families like these no matter where they are. No parents should have to flee their homeland in order to homeschool their children.

Homeschooling is almost always a matter of deeply held conviction. The role of parents in the lives of their children is fundamental. Decisions that parents make regarding the upbringing and education of their children are virtually always a matter of conviction, whether religious, moral or philosophical. The idea of religious freedom extends to such matters of conviction—especially as it relates to homeschooling.

As the president exercises leadership on protecting and respecting the rights of people to live in accordance with their faith and conscience, we think homeschooling should be included. You can send that message with us by clicking here.

Learn More

You can watch the key speeches here.

You can read the president’s speech here.

You can read the UN secretary-general’s remarks here.

You can send a message to ask our government to help Cuban homeschoolers here.

HSLDA is the world’s premier homeschool advocacy organization, but we can’t defend freedom without your support. Please join HSLDA to assist our fight for freedom.


Michael Donnelly

Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach

Mike is an attorney, writer, adjunct professor of government, and frequent media spokesperson on homeschooling, freedom, and parental rights. Read more.


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