Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of State made the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report available. The yearly report, required by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, outlines the status of religious freedom in every country and how U.S. policies work to advocate for religious freedom across the globe. To produce this report, U.S. embassies compiled information from government officials, religious groups, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, and others to produce drafts of country chapters. Then, the Office of International Religious Freedom gathered and examined additional information, pulling from a variety of sources.
In a press meeting announcing the release of the 2019 International Religious Freedom Report, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo declared, “There is no other nation that cares so deeply about religious freedom,” since the United States has taken the time to examine and compile a report on religious freedom. Secretary Pompeo remarked on the optimistic developments in countries such as Gambia, the United Arab Emirates, and Uzbekistan. But he also noted that there is a long way to go in strengthening religious freedom around the world.
During the same press meeting, Ambassador Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, reported on countries where religious freedom is undermined, including China, Iran, and Nigeria. He proclaimed, “We must continue to build partnerships and alliances with nations who share our commitment to advance religious freedom around the world, and we must continue our efforts to stop bad actors.”
Ambassador Brownback also praised the efforts of the Trump Administration to defend religious freedom. Last year, the U.S. Department of State helped establish the international Abrahamic Faiths Initiative that strives for peace between Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Secretary Pompeo started the International Religious Freedom Alliance, becoming “the first-ever U.S. Secretary of State to organize an international coalition at a national leadership level to push the issue of religious freedom forward around the world.” And this month, President Donald Trump issued an executive order, which calls on the U.S. government to prioritize international religious freedom.
As Ambassador Brownback declared, “The importance of advancing religious freedom cannot be overstated. It must extend to all areas of our foreign policy…”