Present and former GOP and Democratic political officials will speak this week at a three-day event designed to promote religious freedom around the world.
The International Religious Freedom Summit begins on Tuesday in Washington D.C. Attendees will hear addresses from the Dalai Lama and American actor Mahershala Ali.
Sam Brownback, former Kansas Governor and Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom during the Trump administration, and Katrina Lantos Swett, the President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights, serve as co-chairman of the event.
In an interview with The Christian Post, Brownback asserted, “This freedom is a fundamental, universal human right that is essential to personal and societal flourishing. We’re amazed and humbled by the incredible commitment of people from all over the world who will join us – many of whom are risking their lives by doing so – to advocate for religious freedom for everyone, everywhere, all the time.”
Politicians and officials from both sides of the aisle will address the conference, including Senator James Lankford (R-OK), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Mike Pompeo, former Secretary of State during the Trump Administration, is scheduled to speak as well.
Several victims of religious oppression will speak to the gathering about their experiences and the need for universal religious freedom. Among the victims speaking are Joy Bishara, a Christian who survived Boko Haram; Chen Guangcheng, who was placed under house arrest in China; Mariam Ibraheem, a Christian sentenced to death in Sudan; and Asia Bibi, who spent almost ten years in prison for blasphemy in Pakistan.
The Summit is also issuing a declaration called “A Charter of Religious Freedom.” The charter says, “the denial of religious freedom to any person is to deny his or her right to live a fully human life and to flourish as a human being” and that protecting religious freedom would “dramatically increase international justice, stability, and peace.”
It also calls “every government, every religious community, and every political and civil society organization in the world” to “strive towards the goal of achieving freedom of religion and conscience for everyone, everywhere – protected in law and valued by culture.”
The charter concludes by calling for religious freedom to entail three “interconnected levels of rights,” “the right to freely believe in religious truths, the right to join with others in a religious community, which also possesses religious freedom, and the rights of believers and of religious communities to live and act peacefully, within civil and political society, in accord with their religious beliefs.”
The Summit also includes an option for virtual attendance and a track for young leaders.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Cecilie Arcurs
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”