China Sanctions Evangelical Leader Who Called Out Religious Freedom Violations

Johnnie Moore, an outgoing USCIRF commissioner, spoke up to ask governments to stop ignoring Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslims, Christians, and Tibetan Buddhists.

Johnnie Moore called China’s recent decision to bar him from entering the country a “publicity stunt” and a sign that Americans’ continued advocacy on behalf of religious minorities is having an effect.

After concluding his second term serving on the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) earlier this month, the evangelical leader was sanctioned by the Chinese government Wednesday for his outspoken criticism toward what he deemed “the world’s foremost violator of human rights and religious freedom.”

USCIRF’s annual report, released in April, condemned China’s religious freedom violations and designated the country’s abuse of the Uighur Muslim population as genocide. Moore—head of the PR firm Kairos Group and a faith adviser to former president Donald Trump—has addressed those issues and stood by pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, including Catholic businessman Jimmy Lai. Lai was sentenced to prison last month for his role in the 2019 protests.

In a Beijing press conference, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian claimed Moore’s advocacy and the recent USCIRF report adopts the “guise” of religious freedom concerns to interfere with Chinese affairs, but really “ignores facts” and is “based on lies,” the state-backed Global Times reported.

The decision to block Moore and his family from entering China, Hong Kong, or Macau was a countermeasure to recent State Department sanctions against a former Chinese official involved in detaining members of the Falun Gong movement, a minority faith which China designates as a cult.

In this year’s USCIRF report, the commission recommended the US …

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