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66 views • August 1, 2018


Celeste Li
The freedom of belief was at the center of the United States’ founding. It’s at the center of the U.S. constitution. And the Trump administration has put it as a top priority in its foreign policy agenda. [[Mike Pompeo, State Department Secretary]] “The United States advances religious freedom in our foreign policy because it is not exclusively an American right. It is a God-given universal right bestowed on all of mankind.” In an effort to promote that right, the State Department held its first Ministerial on Religious Freedom July 24 to 26 in Washington, D.C. [[Mike Pence, US Vice President]]: [[7:55-8:06]] “As President Trump has said on many occasions, the United States of America is a “nation of faith,” and religious freedom is a top priority of this administration.” [[Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State]]: “When religious freedom flourishes, a country flourishes.” Representatives from over 80 countries attended the event, including victims of religious persecution who shared their stories. Marziyeh Amirizadeh [[11:27- “We spent 259 days in Evin prison, one of the most notorious prisons in Iran.” [[Monir Khanjani, Niece of[Jamaloddin Khanjani]] [6:03--6:12]] “We would hear regularly of arrests, executions, and looting of Baha’i homes and businesses.” Maryam Rostampour [[16:23--16:26]] “All the Iranians are experiencing different forms of persecution and suffering.” It wasn’t just Iran that was highlighted though. The governments of Russia, Iraq, Nicaragua, Sudan, Turkey, North Korea, and particularly China were held up as violators of religious freedom. [[Mike Pence, U.S Vice President]] [[14:50 -14:56]] “For nearly 70 years, the Tibetan people have been brutally repressed by the Chinese government.” [[Frank Wolf, Retired U.S. Representative]] [[55:06-55:17]] “Falun Gong are facing severe persecution and there are actually reports of organ harvesting where they kill him and they take your organs for sale.” [[Mike Pence, U.S Vice President]] [[15:32--15:42]] “Sadly, as we speak as well, Beijing is holding hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of Uyghur Muslims in so-called “re-education camps.” [[Frank Wolf, Retired U.S. Representative]] [55:43-55:51]] “For me as a follower of Jesus scripture gives little choice but to respond to the oppression.” Regarding Turkey, news of a positive development came out on the last day of the ministerial. [[Sam Brownbeck, U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom]] [[00:17--00:28]] “Well, you’re already having an impact it appears. Reuters is reporting that an American Pastor who has been detained in Turkey for nearly 2 years has been put out on house arrest.” Secretary Pompeo said that the U.S. is in conversation with Turkey to bring Pastor Andrew Brunson home. [[Mike Pence, U.S. Vice President]] “If Turkey does not take immediate action to free this innocent man of faith and send him home to America, the United States will impose significant sanctions on Turkey until Pastor Andrew Brunson is free.” Day one of the Ministerial was about learning how to tap into government and private sector resources. On day two, participants shared stories, advice, and expertise. And day 3 was about identifying barriers to religious freedom and how to overcome them. USAID Administrator Mark Green said that by merely holding such an event, it spreads hope to those persecuted for their faith around the world. [[Mark Green, USAID Administrator]] [[36:25-36:32]] “Of course, hope is insufficient if it is unaccompanied by action.” There were several concrete actions the U.S. will take announced at the ministerial. [[Mike Pence, US Secretary of State]] “It’s my privilege as vice president to announce today that the United States of America will establish the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response Program, effective today. Under this new program, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development will closely partner with local faith and community leaders to rapidly deliver aid to persecuted communities, beginning with Ir
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