In one of the first international efforts to champion religious freedom, leaders from the United States and several other countries will gather in Washington D.C. this week for the first meeting of the new International Religious Freedom Alliance.
The alliance falls under the leadership of U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, as reported by The Christian Post.
“I have not seen this type of organization or push on a human rights that I am aware of before,” said Brownback. “This is the first effort really to get a group of nations that will be the activist on a particular human right to try to champion and pursue that cause more aggressively.
“We will be looking at things we can work collectively on and [how] we can push for religious freedom efforts around the world. We are excited about the countries and their enthusiasm.”
So far, 17 countries have confirmed their membership to the alliance, though Brownback hopes that number rises. The names of the countries have yet to be disclosed.
Requirements for membership are high, according to Brownback. The alliance welcomes countries who have shown a strong commitment to religious freedom in their history.
“The United States pushes [religious freedom] but we need other allies to push it too,” Brownback said. “The fortunate thing is that it isn’t going to be just us. It is going to be a group of nations to push on this.”
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo first announced the alliance at the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, according to World. Trump continued to advertise the group at the United Nations General Assembly in September, despite the previous circulation of rumors that Trump was considering cutting the total number of refugees, including persecuted Christians, allowed into the U.S. to nearly zero, Politico reports.
As part of the initiative, Brownback traveled to Rome earlier this year to meet with the Abrahamic Faiths Initiative, which is a coalition of Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders.
“One of the key statements that came out is that this group is committed to resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism,” Brownback said. “Unfortunately, much of the world looks at religion as the cause of wars. This group and the people they are working with see religion as an instrument of peace. They want to make it that way.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Matt Anderson
Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine. She blogs at mikaelamathews.com.