Trump trip to Middle East, Vatican offers religious opportunities, pitfalls

Trump trip to Middle East, Vatican offers religious opportunities, pitfalls


President Trump has billed his visit to Saudi Arabia. Israel and the Vatican as a sort of triple pilgrimage to places deeply meaningful to adherents of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

But his first overseas trip as president also presents deep religious and political pitfalls.

Whether his time abroad will appease faith groups upset by Trump’s proposed Muslim travel ban and his waffling over whether to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem — among other thorny issues — remains to be seen.

“He will meet with Pope Francis, who has made no secret of his disdain for Trump’s harsh rhetoric about immigrants and has reminded the president to remember the poor.”

“In Saudi Arabia, Trump’s first stop, the president will share “his hopes for a peaceful vision of Islam” and “the need to confront radical ideology” during a meeting with officials from dozens of Muslim-majority countries”…… McMaster said.

“Trump will not be able to visit Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad and the world’s holiest Islamic city, because it is off-limits to non-Muslims.”

During the Israeli leg of the trip, Trump will likely score points with the 80% of white evangelical Christians in the U.S. who voted for him — many of whom feel personally tied to Israel…

“There’s been a tendency” on the part of leaders “To see religion as part of the problem and something best avoided,” Rosen said, “But doing so only plays into the hands of the most extreme elements.”

“If President Trump wishes to reach out to ordinary Muslims in the Middle East and around the world, he should avoid the pejorative terminology, anti-Muslim stereotypes and counterproductive policies promoted by Islamophobic advisers such as Stephen Miller, Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorki……” Awad said.


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