ICC Note: Since the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, the United States has committed to fostering a world where people are free to choose to believe or not believe in whatever faith they wish. Despite this worthwhile goal, three quarters of the world’s population live in nations where religious freedom is restricted at high or very high levels, leaving many, especially religious minorities, with little room to practice their faith. More can and should be done to promote this fundamental human right.
10/29/2014 United States (Washington Times) – Even as the Obama administration calls on nations to secure religious freedoms globally, advocates say the effort would get a boost with more action and leadership from the United States itself.
“The United States has had an ‘official’ policy of promoting international religious freedom since the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998,” said Tom Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. “As the most powerful and the most influential country in the world, it should be leading the fight against religious persecution and for religious freedom.
Monday marked the 16th anniversary of the act — a valuable tool in promoting religious liberty only if the federal government uses it to its full potential, said Katrina Lantos Swett, chairwoman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
“We want to see people at the highest levels saying ‘we get it,’ religious freedom is not just a nice issue, it’s central to our foreign policy and national security policy,” Ms. Swett said. “We are not totally in the dark in the way our government actually works, but what you need is attention from those at the highest level that think this is important, this is a priority that is crucially in our national interest.”