July 24 marks the beginning of the 3-day Ministerial, convened by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as one of his first actions upon assuming office in May 2018.
Foreign ministers, religious leaders, and civil society representatives will gather to discuss combating religious persecution in different parts of the world.
A Ministerial is a high-level international gathering of senior-ranking government officials and experts. “It’s truly historic. It’s the first time the State Department has led such a discussion. We’ll have over 80 delegations from countries around the world, many, many religious organizations, NGOs,” Pompeo told ETWN, the global Catholic TV Network.
During the three-day event, survivors of religious persecution will share their stories, senior U.S. government officials will provide an overview of religious freedom policy goals, and foreign delegations will announce new initiatives to promote freedom of religion.
The State Department announced earlier this week that U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will address attendees on the importance of international religious freedom on July 26.
“The State Department takes this issue of religious freedom very seriously. In conversations with countries that don’t live up to the standards of religious freedom that they ought to have, we raise that issue, sometimes privately if we think that’s the most effective way to achieve the change that we’re looking for, and sometimes publicly if we think that will accomplish our goal,” Pompeo told EWTN.
2018 is the twentieth anniversary of the enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, whose post was created by that act, will launch the week’s activities with a delegation of survivors of contemporary religious persecution in China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, and elsewhere. It will take place at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“It should be a great gathering where we will make the point that religious freedom is a human right and that every individual ought to have their right to practice their particular religion, or if they have no faith, to not be punished for that either,” said Pompeo.
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.