Contrary to John Lennon’s wistful imaginings, a world without religion would not be a peaceful world. It would be an angry place, with occupants void of that which animates them, gives them meaning and purpose. Human flourishing depends on our ability to imagine a world where religious freedom is cherished, protected, and encouraged.
Two dozen years ago, members of Congress made a deliberate and unanimous choice to stand as beacons of this most fundamental of human rights. With the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), legislators sought to underscore America’s centuries-old commitment to the freedom of religion and belief and established the framework to elevate religious freedom as a priority within U.S. foreign policy.
Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken has affirmed that commitment, saying, “We know that when the fundamental right of each person to practice their faith or to choose not to observe a faith is respected, people can make their fullest contributions to their community’s success; entire societies are better off.”
I invite you to read my long-form piece,
Religious Freedom: An Essential Lyric for Human Flourishing
which appears today in The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation and Culture. In it, I address the importance of religion in the public square, how the U.S. incorporates religious freedom into foreign policy, and why Christians in particular should care about international religious freedom as a front-burner issue.
If inspired, I also encourage readers to participate in next week’s IRF Summit 2022, scheduled for June 28-30 in Washington, D.C., with an opportunity for virtual participation. This year’s three-day event is co-chaired by former IRF Ambassador Sam Brownback and Katrina Lantos Swett, President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights. Details about speakers, topics and registration can be accessed here.
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