The State Department announced Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback’s visit to Nigeria June 18 to 22 is prompted by U.S. concern over the state of religious freedom in that country.
Brownback’s plan: to meet, along with U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria W. Stuart Symington, with stakeholders including government officials, religious leaders and civil society groups on how to enhance religious freedom in the country.
The Office of International Religious Freedom, headed by Ambassador Brownback, has the mission of promoting religious freedom as a core objective of U.S. foreign policy. The office also monitors religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, recommends policies in respective regions or countries, and develops programs to promote religious freedom.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report, presented to the U.S. Congress by the Secretary of State, describes the status of religious freedom in each of 195 countries throughout the world.
Those found severely violating religious freedom are designated as countries of particular concern and those countries are subject to actions by the US, including economic sanctions.
This year’s report recommended Nigeria to be designated a country of particular concern, prompting Ambassador Brownback’s visit.
Last month, Brownback stated, “My plan is to travel to Nigeria…to talk with leaders—government leaders, religious leaders, Christian and Muslim leaders—to talk about what we can do to move forward, to reduce the level of violence, to open the way for religious freedom taking place in that country.”
Brownback said much progress needs to take place for the government to secure the right of religious freedom.
“And remember, our effort is for religious freedom for everybody, regardless of faith, or even if you’re a person without faith, but that you are free to do with your own conscience whatever you choose and that no government has the right to interfere with that. But the government has the right and the responsibility to protect that religious freedom right, and that’s what we’d be pushing with Nigeria.”
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.