U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Starting today and ending on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will host the United States’ first ministerial on advancing religious freedom globally.

More than 40 foreign ministers, as well as, religious and civic leaders from around the world, will meet at the U.S. State Department during this unprecedented three-day event to discuss challenges to religious freedom, identify ways to address persecution and discrimination against religious groups and promote greater respect for religious freedom.

Prior to the start of the ministerial Pompeo had an op/ed published in USA Today to draw attention to religious persecution around the globe.

Threats to religious freedom globally are at an all-time high. According to the Pew Research Center, over 6.1 billion people, 83 percent of the world’s population, live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religion. Millions are subjected to violent persecution, including torture, rape, forced expulsion, and murder because of their religious beliefs or the beliefs of their tormentors.

With this as a backdrop, more than 80 nations are expected to send delegations, along with hundreds of representatives from civil society organizations, and religious communities from all around the world.

“Two key objectives of the Trump administration are reduction of terrorism and growing the economy. With religious freedom, you get both of them. It is also a fundamental human right under assault in much of the world. The intent is really to drive the issue of religious freedom more aggressively globally, and the outcomes are really twofold that we intend to get out of it: less terrorism, more economic growth,” Sam Brownback, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, said.

U.S. State Department officials will discuss policy priorities. Religious and civic leaders will meet to share their expertise and build partnerships to enhance religious freedom. Survivors of religious persecution will be given the opportunity to share their stories. The goal for the ministerial is that government and international organization representatives will discuss global challenges to religious freedom, develop collaborative solutions to these challenges and make new commitments regarding the promotion of religious freedom.

In announcing the Ministerial, Pompeo stressed that “where fundamental freedoms of religion, expression, peace and peaceful assembly are under attack, we find conflict, instability, and terrorism. On the other hand, governments and societies that champion these freedoms are more secure, stable, and peaceful.”

“I applaud U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo for hosting the first Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom this week,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Innocent people around the world are imprisoned, tortured and persecuted for their faith. Christians and religious minorities are suffering more persecution than at any time in history. The Trump administration has vowed to fight for religious freedom. This ministerial has never happened in the world and it is encouraging that the United States is the first to host it in order to help defend this sacred freedom around the world,” Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, said.

“This gathering represents a historic opportunity for the United States. The time is now for our nation to lead a global effort in advancing this fundamental right, without which no human being, and no society, can flourish,” Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, said in anticipation of the ministerial.

Liberty Counsel and Religious Freedom Institute were involved in planning and discussions regarding the ministerial.

“Three months into his new job as Secretary, Mike Pompeo has put his stamp on plenty of foreign policy.  But this decision to bring the world together on one of the greatest human rights crises of our time could be a turning point for millions of people.  Considering that religious freedom cuts against instability and decreases the likelihood of terrorism, everyone in the world has a stake in the Ministerial succeeding,” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Center, stated.

 “Of course, just because leaders sit down and talk about it doesn’t mean the problem of religious persecution will just magically disappear.  But it could go a long way to starting a dialogue in some countries that, until now, have been very unwilling to discuss the topic,” Perkins added. “After the eight years of the Obama administration, we’re more appreciative than ever for President Trump’s emphasis on religious liberty.  With all of the issues competition for the world’s attention, Americans are grateful the White House isn’t overlooking one of the most important.”

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