Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom Sam Brownback addressed the second-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on Tuesday.
Pompeo welcomed the foreign delegations and representatives, noting that "despite our many differences, everyone here agrees on the need for religious pluralism."
"And we all agree that fighting so that each person is free to believe, free to assemble, and to teach the tenets of his or her own faith is not optional – indeed, it is a moral imperative that this be permitted. All people from every place on the globe must be permitted to practice their faith openly – in their homes, in their places of worship, in the public square – and believe what they want to believe," Pompeo said.
Pompeo closed his remarks by emphasizing that "America's commitment to religious freedom will never waver."
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 16, 2019
Brownback urged attendees to consider the "burst of freedom most of the world's population would experience if religious freedom were protected."
"Imagine the prosperity we can create together if our world was put on a path of growth of religious freedom. First, of course, we need to believe this is possible and it can happen. In fact, it must happen for humans to reach their aspirations for peace and for eternity," Brownback continued.
Brownback pointed out the common foundation all nations have for pursuing religious freedom, highlighting its inclusion in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"Let this be the the time humanity says we are together in this right. Let this be the moment the history books point out as the time the world determined that this human right will not be trampled on anymore. Let the movement begin. We do stand and we stand united and determined to see this through," Brownback concluded.
A report released by Pew earlier this week determined government restrictions on religion "increased markedly around the world" between 2007 and 2017. The report noted that "social hostilities involving religion – including violence and harassment by private individuals, organizations or groups – also have risen since 2007, the year Pew Research Center began tracking the issue."