The president also announced a commitment by the administration of $25 million in funding "to protect religious freedom and religious sites and relics," and to form a coalition of U.S. businesses to protect religious freedom especially in the workplace.
"Too often, people in positions of power preach diversity while silencing, shunning, or censoring the faithful," President Trump stated. "True tolerance means respecting the right of all people to express their deeply held religious beliefs."
Part of a day's worth of events on religious freedom, Trump's speech was followed immediately by UN Secretary-General Guterres, who emphasized the need for protection of religious communities that have existed for centuries or even millennia but which are also being targeted.
He mentioned Chaldean and Assyrian Christian and Yezidi communities in Iraq saying he "cannot accept that these communities that have been there for millennia will disappear from the region."
"It is clear that these communities like the Yezidis, like many others, in this region as everywhere in the world, are a deeply rooted part of the society, and it is essential to preserve religious diversity in all parts of the world," he said.
Guterres noted Pope Francis' joint statement the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, on human fraternity, signed in February in the United Arab Emirates, and called the declaration a "moving testament for mutual respect."
That statement said that "[t]he pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings."
After Trump's remarks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also addressed the religious freedom event, introducing survivors of religious persecution who would give their testimonies.
"The Bible says that 'whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things,'" Pompeo said, quoting from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Philippians. "And that's what we are all doing here today."
Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation, highlighted the significance of such a "high-level" event at the UN with world leaders present.
Holding the event at the UNGA, which she called "probably the most high-profile global event of the year," meant that the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom was "putting religious freedom at the top of the agenda of the world stage."
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Present at the event were survivors of religious persecution in countries like Sudan, Iran, China, and Turkey.
"Those kinds of people-I cannot remember the last time they got a platform" this great, she said. "To have them be confronting their abusers at the UNGA, that's unprecedented."
ADF International Director of Global Religious Freedom Kelsey Zorzi, who also serves as president of the United Nations' NGO Committee on Freedom of Religion or Belief, said that "The president's speech is an important and historic moment precisely because religious freedom is too often ignored or downplayed at the U.N."