Open Letter to President Trump regarding Cuban Pastor Ramón Rigal
April 16, 2019
The Honorable Donald J. Trump
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Re: Open Letter regarding Cuban Pastor Ramón Rigal
Dear Mr. President:
I am writing to ask for your help on a matter of great importance to our commmunity and one that touches our cherished principles of religious freedom, the institution of the family and our nation’s exceptional and unique place in the world as a shining city on a hill.
On April 15, two Cuban fathers were jailed for homeschooling their children. These fathers, like Cuban Pastor Ramón Rigal in 2017, have been treated like criminals—simply because they have chosen to homeschool their children in accordance with their Christian faith. It is uncertain if, or when, they will be released. On March 22, 2019, Pastor Ramón, had been arrested, interrogated, and threatened with prison and the forced removal of his children—unless he stopped homeschooling. He was ordered to tell other Christian families, like the two arrested yesterday, to stop as well. Ramón determined to leave Cuba. But, after authorities told him he could leave, and HSLDA made travel arrangements for his family, Cuban officials abruptly changed their minds, preventing their departure just hours before their flights. He implored me to write to you to ask for your help.
I understand that you have several homeschooled interns and graduates working for you. Almost 4% of the school-aged population in our nation is now homeschooled. The Supreme Court has long recognized the right of parents to “direct the education and upbringing” of children as a fundamental right—and an enduring tradition deeply rooted in our history. Home education has been recognized in all 50 states and territories since 1996, and voluminous research continues to prove its effectiveness.
With just a few powerful characters of prose on Twitter and instructions to your administration, you can help protect Pastor Ramón and set an example for others to follow. Thank you for your outstanding leadership, service to our country, and your anticipated help.
Most respectfully yours,
J. Michael Smith
Michael P. Donnelly
Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach
Vice President Michael Pence
Secretary of State Michael Pompeo
Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback
Commissioners of the United States Congress Commission on International Religious Freedom
Cuban Ambassador Sr. José Ramón Cabañas
Senators Jim Risch and Bob Menendez, Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Representatives Eliot Engel and Michael McCaul, Chair and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee