07/14/2021 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Speaking at the inaugural International Religious Freedom Summit via video on Wednesday afternoon, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom would be appointed in the coming weeks. The position has sat empty since the Biden Administration took office in January and serves a critical role in advancing religious freedom around the world.
“We’re looking forward to appointing an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom in the coming weeks,” Blinken said. “Religious freedom is a vital component of our diplomacy. Every day, our team in the Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department in Washington along with American diplomats around the world work…to track threats to religious freedom, coordinate responses, and lift up solutions.”
The Office of International Religious Freedom is led by the Ambassador at Large and the announcement of an upcoming appointment to the position was met with approval by leaders in the religious freedom movement. “The appointment of an ambassador to this position indicates that the Biden administration is serious about advancing religious freedom around the world,” said Matias Perttula, ICC’s Director of Advocacy. “The US must lead on this issue, and the appointment of an effective, empowered individual to this position is critical in that effort.”
The International Religious Freedom Summit is co-chaired by Sam Brownback, who served as Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom under the Trump administration. The latest individual to serve in that role, Ambassador Brownback used his position to draw greater attention to the issue of religious freedom not only in the halls of US government but around the world as well, traveling extensively to create a coalition of likeminded countries willing to push the issue and helping to organize multiple Ministerials to Advance Religious Freedom.
ICC and other organizations have worked closely with the IRF Office and the Ambassador to advance the cause of religious freedom and to promote policies conducive to that right.
Other speakers at the Summit include the Dalai Lama, former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, USAID Administrator Samantha Power, Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Senator James Lankford, and many others in government and civil society. ICC is a presenting partner of the Summit and hosted a side event during the Summit highlighting religious freedom issues in India.
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