Written by Don Byrd
This week the U.S. State Department issued its annual International Religious Freedom Report, which surveys the state of religious freedom in every nation in the world. The comprehensive report details incidents in the past year and assesses the status of religious freedom in each country, including designating “Countries of Particular Concern” for their egregious religious freedom abuses.
The report describes the especially troubling developments for religious minorities in China, North Korea, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia. As the LATimes reports, Saudi Arabia remains exempt from sanctions for its religious freedom violations because of its strategic importance to the United States.
In addition to issuing the annual report, Secretary of State Pompeo announced that he will host an event later this year bringing together governmental representatives and religious liberty advocates around the topic of globaI religious freedom. The “Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom” will take place at the State Department on July 25-26. Here is how the Secretary described the event during a press briefing:
I look forward to hosting my counterparts from likeminded governments, as well as representatives of international organizations, religious communities, and civil society to reaffirm our commitment to religious freedom as a universal human right. This ministerial, we expect, will break new ground. It will not just be a discussion group. It will be about action. We look forward to identifying concrete ways to push back against persecution and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all.
The ministerial will also be my first to host as a Secretary of State, and that’s very intentional. Religious freedom is indeed a universal human right that I will fight for, one that our team at the department will continue to fight for, and one that I know President Trump will continue to fight for. The United States will not stand by as spectators. We will get in the ring and stand in solidarity with every individual who seeks to enjoy their most fundamental of human rights.
You can browse the 2017 International Religious Freedom Report by country or region. For more, read the remarks of Religious Freedom Ambassador Sam Brownback here.