My Faith, My Work, My Country

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

Family Leader Summit

Ron Pearson Center, West Des Moines, Iowa

MRS POMPEO: Good afternoon and thank you for that. I’m pretty sure that this is the precise moment when my husband, who thought it was a fun idea to have me introduce him today, is questioning why. (Laughter.) He doesn’t know for sure what I’m going to say, but he’ll be just fine.

You are probably somewhat familiar with Mike’s resume. His resume reflects his life, where he has had very diverse opportunities and experiences, and because of that, Mike and I joke at times, we’ve been called calculating and strategic. And would that we be that smart. It is true he’s been a soldier, he’s been in private business, he’s been a congressman, he’s been director of the CIA, but it was not strategic nor was it calculating. We both know it was the hand of God. (Applause.)

He may feel compelled to defend himself, but it was really soft chocolate chip cookies that initially led Mike to a Bible study with other cadets at West Point. You can ask him more about that, but he hung in there, as did the cookies. It was business that had – saw him moving from the East Coast back to his mother’s home state of Kansas to launch a business there, and it was really encouragement from others that compelled both of us to launch a campaign for Mike to run for Congress from the 4th District of Kansas when his name recognition was a whopping 1 percent at the time.

I think it was probably his willingness and interest, particularly from his days as a soldier, to learn and think and want to know more about the national security arena that initially landed him in President Trump’s cabinet. And Mike and I even to this day look at each other – on a day like today, where we get to have so much fun in a place that we love – and say to each other, “How did we get here?” But we know it was the hand of God.

It was definitely God’s hand when Mike said to me, as Bob alluded, in the car one day going home from church – our pastor had made a pretty impassioned plea because we were short of Sunday school teachers, and Mike said, “There’s no reason we can’t do that.” And I said, “There’s a thousand reasons we can’t do that.” (Laughter.) “I’m teaching a women’s study, I’m busy, you never have time even to read, let alone” – well, as you heard, we taught 5th grade Sunday school until Mike was in Congress. And finally – only finally recently – did he admit – I took the girls and he took the boys and then we were in the same big room, but my girls were perfect and memorized their scripture and their lessons. They were precious, and Mike finally now admits that he felt good about himself if the boys stayed in their chairs and didn’t break out into a fight. (Laughter.) So at least I feel good about that.

Our church also had a fantastic youth program. Our son Nick, who is here today somewhere – there he is – never, ever, ever missed Monday night boys’ discipleship, and Mike and I have also joked with each other that we think the youth pastor knows a lot more about Nick’s teenage years than we do, but we are a-okay with that.

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By Mike’s presence here today, I think you probably understand if you didn’t that Mike has never tried to deny his faith or to hide it. Moreover, he thinks the role of faith leaders, whether that’s being a pastor or a layperson or a believer, in America right now more than ever is critical. And I’m sure you’ll hear him talk more about that.

I always remember this one time when a member of the media asked Mike, “How do you plan, if you end up in Congress, to separate your faith from your business?” And he paused for a minute and then said, “I won’t even try. It’s the prism through which I view the world and everything else.” And so he still has his Bible sitting on his desk and he’s ridiculed for it, as I’m sure you’ve read, and he is fine with that.

One other caveat or one other point that I’d like to share with you, because I still find this so interesting: Mike – world leaders have mentioned to Mike repeatedly they know of his faith, and especially those who themselves are of faith, whatever their religion might be, really admire that and appreciate it. And it’s fascinating the things that they will write to him, the common bond that they definitely feel they share with him because of a faith commitment, which I think is a pretty good place to start diplomacy at.

Michael has taken what he said to Nick week after week after week as Nick was growing up and he does it himself, and that is tell the truth, work hard, pray hard, and you’ll be just fine. So with that, I’d like you to meet my husband, Mike Pompeo. (Applause.)

SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you all. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Thank you.

Thank you. Good afternoon. It is wonderful to be here among so many friends. I want to thank you, Bob, for your introduction and all the amazing, good, patriotic work that you and your team do. And Susan, that was pretty nice of you, too. (Laughter.) Kept it straight; I like that.

Look, the – you all know this – the Family Leader is making a real difference all across the country.

Bob, I’ve noticed that you’ve snagged a unique honor. Your book, “Light from Lucas,” received the Chuck Norris seal of approval. (Laughter.) Whatever you can do to get on that guy’s good side, I think that’s smart. I really do.

It took awhile for us to get together, but I’m glad that I was able to make it out here, and that Bob invited me to be here.

Last year I was in Iowa, I spoke at the World Food Prize headquarters about President Trump’s critical mission to bring fairness and reciprocity into our relationship with China – to the benefit of American farmers, and indeed all Americans.

And speaking of critical missions, I couldn’t leave Des Moines last time without picking up a box full of Jethro’s Barbeque, over on Forest Ave. (Laughter.) Deep connection to Kansas.

Of course, I’ve been here to Iowa several times. I’ve been – when I ran the company called Thayer Aerospace, we did business with a company called Collins Aerospace. I came here when Wichita State was in the Missouri Valley. They played Northern Iowa. We won more than we lost. (Laughter.) The University of Iowa is, of course, my mother-in-law’s alma mater. No offense to the Cyclones in the room today. And as you’ve heard, Susan is a Iowa girl herself. She grew up in Kansas but spent every summer there in Coralville.

So I like to think you all had a part in making the woman that she is such a special lady. Susan, thanks again for your blessed introduction.

And speaking of cyclones, the last few years have been quite a whirlwind – going from Congress to be the director of America’s Central Intelligence Agency, to now being America’s most senior diplomat as the 70th Secretary of State of the United States. And if you believe the media, I’m supposed to be running for the Senate down in Kansas right now. But I love what I’m doing working for President Trump to deliver American foreign policy all around the world. (Applause.)

But it wasn’t so long ago that Susan and I were just like so many of you all. We were raising our son, we were trying to build up our community, we’re staying involved at our church.

I was teaching Sunday school. I ran a small company of a couple hundred folks in Kansas. That job and Sunday School, of course, was the best preparation to be America’s most senior diplomat. (Laughter.) I will not elaborate. (Laughter.)

And look, I know too, I know American families are busy. The first thing on their minds isn’t the work of the State Department every day.

But it matters. It matters what we do, and it’s why I wanted to be here to talk with you all about that today.

We have a responsibility to keep you all safe.

We advocate too for American businesses abroad, and help create jobs in every state in the union.

And we represent your principles, and I think our administration does that remarkably well. (Applause.)

And because people don’t always know what we do, I’ve made it one of my missions to travel all over America to highlight the great work that we’re doing. And I couldn’t be prouder of that work.

We’ve executed a foreign policy that American families in Des Moines, in Dubuque, and in Davenport can believe in.

It’s a pro-national security foreign policy focused on America.

It’s a pro-religious freedom foreign policy.

And it’s a 100 percent pro-life foreign policy. (Applause.)

Susan talked about this, but my faith helps guide how I execute the mission every day, and I want to talk about that just a bit – how we execute this mission.

Let’s start with the first point – America’s national security, our foremost objective by far. It’s the highest priority of any Secretary of State, and certainly for President Trump as well.

Our founders understood this. They understood that keeping our citizens safe was the very first duty of any government. I wish some mayors across America knew that too.

I think too about my responsibilities in light of the biblical call to be a good steward of whatever you have. 1 Corinthians 4 says that: “Those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.”

And God has entrusted this position to me for this time. And I feel every day the duty to honor that calling.

Look, I learned a lot about stewardship too when I was in an M1 tank. You actually learn a lot inside an M1 tank.

It was my first assignment. I was a young second lieutenant, leading a unit that was then patrolling the East-West German border during the Cold War. Freedom on one side; communism on the other. That was a big responsibility for me. I had a little younger look to me at that time.

And today my job is a little bit bigger, but nonetheless, the threats we face today aren’t terribly different but they come from different places.

Today, China is working to take down freedom all across the world.

Today, Russians want to poison our democracy, our institutions, and use disinformation to sow discord here in America.

Iranians desire to spread the Islamic Revolution all over the Middle East.

I could go on.

But I’m doing all I can – and President Trump is doing all he can – to faithfully discharge our duties. I work pretty late most nights, and I – my staff can attest to that.

I haven’t gotten home to see friends and family in Kansas a whole heck of a lot.

And I’ve been traveling all across the world. I don’t get as much sleep as my doctor tells me I should. Indeed, I understand Mike Lindell may be here. Maybe one of those pillows might prove useful? (Laughter.)

The truth is, President Trump has given me the capacity and the drive to execute diplomacy with a real level of excellence – not just because Americans are depending on our success and our ability to get it right, but striving for excellence too because the call to stewardship God has placed on us we can feel in every circumstance, just as he’s called all of us to do that, wherever it is we find ourselves.

Stewarding my position well also means making decisions based on the truth. Our God is indeed a god of truth. And we should every day seek to reflect His character in that regard.

Our administration has told some very plain truths, truths that weren’t recognized – or worse, had been conveniently ignored – for too long.

And that perhaps starts with the Chinese Communist Party. No administration has broken glass on the threat of our times like we have.

For a long time, foreign policy thinkers – truly, the elites on the East Coast – for a long time, foreign policy thinkers thought that the more we traded with China, the more free that nation would become and the less risk they would be to the American people.

But that’s not what’s happening today.

Today, the Chinese Communist Party is crushing freedom in Hong Kong. It’s threatening a free Taiwan. It’s trying to dominate world communications networks, including those right here in places like Iowa.

And inside China, just to give a single example, a few weeks back I read a report about the Chinese Communist Party forcing mass abortions and sterilization on Chinese Muslims in Western China. These are some of the most gross human rights violations we have seen and I’ve referred to it as the stain of the century.

But we have used the truth of calling that out in a way to put it into action. We know these things are deeply wrong. And we know it puts risk on people all across America.

So we won’t stay still while Communist China tries to crush the world’s freedoms.

We have slapped sanctions and travel restrictions on CCP officials.

We’re telling the truth every day of where the coronavirus came from, and the communist coverup of that virus.

We’re revising Hong Kong’s – agreements with Hong Kong, as the Communist Party erodes the freedom for people in that place.

We’re fighting too to stop China from stealing our intellectual property. You all work hard, you create value. We want to bring fairness too to our trade policies, as we’ve done in the Phase 1 trade deal.

You should note, the Chinese Communist Party isn’t too happy about it. A few weeks ago, the Chinese state TV called me, quote, “the common enemy of mankind,” end of quote. I had some people I knew pretty well back in Kansas say, “Well.” (Laughter.)

Look, it’s – I’m guessing that because President Trump and I are serious about this that we’ll face more of that from them, but we’ll do the right thing for the American people. (Applause.)

Look, we’ve also fundamentally changed the way America treats the Islamic Republic of Iran.

We know the facts:

The nuclear deal gave the regime more money to carry out terrorism, presenting risk to the United States and others in the Middle East.

Outlaw regimes like the one that was led by the Ayatollah only respond to strength, not to appeasement.

So we flipped what the previous administration was doing. We ditched the deal and implemented a brand new Iran policy:

This policy deprives the regime of blood money.

It denies the regime diplomatic sanctuary.

And it deters the regime from aggression.

And they’ve felt it. The regime has felt the effects of the first two steps. And the terrorist Qasem Soleimani has come to understand too that our commitment to deterrence when we wiped him off the face of the earth is real. (Applause.)

That work is also important for the sake of our closest friend in the Middle East, Israel. Here too my faith shapes my work. Our nations share Judeo-Christian roots. Our approach to government draws on that beautiful teaching from the first chapter of Genesis: that all human beings are made in the image of God. (Applause.) It’s a major reason why both countries have a high respect for human dignity and personal liberty. Each of our two nations respects human rights and it only makes sense for the two countries to be so close, as close as we possibly can be.

And from a pure – pure foreign policy standpoint, Israel is an essential security partner.

It’s a model. It’s a model in the Middle East of how to create a thriving economy.

And Israel too is a bastion of freedom in the region.

I’m proud that there’s not been any administration that has supported Israel in the way that President Trump and our administration has done. (Applause.)

Each of the actions we’ve taken have been criticized. There’s a reason they weren’t done before.

We moved our embassy to Jerusalem. (Applause.)

We said that the Golan Heights is a part of Israel. (Applause.)

We’ve now unveiled a vision for peace that recognizes reality on the ground, the biblical truths in that special place. And we’ve said that anti-Zionism is indeed anti-Semitism. Period. (Applause.)

I’m also really proud of the work that we’ve done defending religious freedom – our first freedom, according to the Constitution.

Thomas Jefferson was our first secretary of state. He’s got a nice statue in Washington that I pray never comes down. (Applause.) I actually went there when some of the riots were taking place in Washington, D.C. I walked up there early one morning, and on the walls of his monument is a quote from the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which he helped author.

It says, quote, “Almighty God created the mind free… No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry, or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief.”

And now, some 250 years later, a high respect for this unalienable right guides our administration.

Right now, four out of five people around the world don’t enjoy full religious freedom, and we’re fighting tooth and nail to change that.

We instituted new religious freedom training programs for thousands of our Foreign Service Officers.

We’ve called out China’s war on faith. Its mass detention of Uyghurs, its godless decisions to replace church displays of the Ten Commandments with words from General Secretary Xi have not gone without being called out.

And now two years running, we at the State Department have hosted what we call the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom – nations and religious leaders from all over the world coming together to protect this essential freedom.

Would you believe our gathering last year was the largest human rights conference ever held at the State Department? (Applause.)

This is different than the State Department of old. This was such a big deal, because we recognized how much previously untapped enthusiasm there is all across the world to defend religious freedom. We’re there to lead. And if you’re here – if you’re here today and you think you are part of a silent majority on this issue, take heart. There are plenty of folks all around the world who aren’t silent, who are prepared to fight for this freedom alongside of us.

And of course, one of them is President Trump. (Applause.) Last year, my friend and yours, Sam Brownback, who heads up these issues at the State Department, brought persecuted religious minorities into the Oval Office. They met with the President – people of different faiths from places like Sudan and Burma and Cuba.

The event was scheduled for just a few minutes and there was a program in place, but I think we all know by now President Trump does things his own way. (Laughter.)

He spent almost half an hour asking them very personal questions, hearing stories of burned homes and of imprisoned family members, and reaffirming the American commitment to religious freedom.

This administration appreciates and knows that our rights come from God, not government. Can I get an amen to that? (Applause.)

And this brings me to my last point, the final thing that I want to share with you today. Our ability to defend these rights abroad must begin with our own powerful example here at home. America sets the tone for the rest of the world in this respect, and our administration has defended the rights of unborn like no other administration in history. (Applause.)

Abortion quite simply isn’t a human right. It takes a human life.

You all – you all know this. The Psalmist says in Psalm 139: “You knit me together in my mother’s womb.” This is when life begins, full stop.

So we’ve reinstated the Mexico City Policy, so that not a single dime of American taxpayer money will ever go to a foreign NGO that performs active abortions anywhere in the world. (Applause.)

In the fall of last year, in the fall of last year, Secretary Azar at Health and Human Services and I, we mobilized 20 countries to deliver a joint statement at the UN criticizing pro-abortion language in UN documents. This has not happened before. We said clearly, quote, that “there is no international right to an abortion.”

It may seem simple to you, but in many parts of the world this kind of language is verboten. And President Trump and our team made a consistent effort on the push to have this be recognized all across the world. (Applause.)

It’s the joy in the small things we sometimes find. After we released that statement, one of our colleagues received an email from a friend in the pro-life movement in Africa.

The note said, quote, “Never did I think that America would use its great power to speak for the protection of the unborn in the most unambiguous and unapologetic terms,” end of quote.

And while it is sad that it took so long for America to find her voice so powerfully, we have now done so, and we appreciate all of you who support our efforts every single day. (Applause.)

I’ll close with this thought-provoking question: Why is it that America is unrivaled in our commitment to freedom? I think I know an answer. Our founders built our country on a commitment to essential rights, unalienable rights – something I spoke about at length yesterday in Philadelphia – that come from these amazing documents, our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, and our nation’s foreign policy must be grounded in those central understanding.

That’s the commitment that’s made us a shining star of liberty in the world. It’s a dark place somewhere in this fallen world, but our house, our house of foreign policy, is built on solid rock, on these bedrock principles that were made at our founding.

As Secretary of State, upholding this legacy is a enormous privilege. It is no easy task. But I’m leaning on my faith each and every day to help me try to get it right.

Your prayers – and I get wonderful notes from all across America of people who are praying for me in their circles and their groups and their Bible studies – your prayers help sustain me. They help sustain me as I travel and as I represent the greatest nation on Earth. And by God’s grace, I’ll continue to do this each and every day.

May the Lord bless you. May God bless Iowa. And may God bless this great nation, the United States of America. Thank you all. (Applause.)

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