Secretary of State Pompeo called religious freedom “a right belonging to every individual on the globe” and said the U.S. “stands with those who yearn for religious liberty.”
Pompeo spoke May 29 as the State Department released the 2017 International Religious Freedom Report describing the state of religious freedom in countries around the world.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Religious Freedom Act, which promotes religious freedom as an important U.S. foreign policy. The law created within the State Department the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, a position held since February by Samuel D. Brownback. Brownback, a former U.S. senator and Kansas governor, is the highest-ranking U.S. official to serve in this role.
At the event marking the report’s release, Pompeo emphasized religious freedom’s central role in the history of the U.S. “Religious freedom was vital to America’s beginning,” he said. “Defending it is critical to our future.”
Brownback said the goal is to protect the freedom of conscience for all people.
“We report on what has occurred and been said. We don’t make judgement calls on what is worthy to report or not,” Brownback said. “We report it all.”
Pompeo and Brownback also used the occasion to announce the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, to take place at the State Department on July 25–26. The meeting will break new ground, Pompeo said. “It will not just be a discussion group. It will be about action.”
Brownback called the state of religious freedom in the world dire. “We must move religious freedom forward — we must defend it in every corner of the globe.”