From Religion News Service
WASHINGTON (RNS) — U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback opened a summit at the State Department this week by urging leaders from a range of faiths to work together to help the persecuted across the globe.
“We need your faith in action to move the world to not just tolerance of differences —although that’s important — but unfortunately, that bar is just too low,” said Brownback, a former Republican Kansas governor and U.S. senator, on Tuesday (July 24). “We must move to a place where people genuinely care and love one another, no matter our differences. You must help us get there.”
He listed the faiths represented in the room of some 350 representatives from 80 countries, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Baha’is, Yazidis and others.
“We were as inclusive as possible because we wanted to include everyone of every faith or no faith at all, everyone who cares about religious freedom and who will join us in this cause,” said the ambassador nominated by President Trump in July 2017 and confirmed in January 2018. “Religious freedom really, truly is for everyone. It’s a right given by God and it’s a beautiful part of our human dignity.”
The website for the first-ever event, called the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, said it aims to bring foreign ministers and religious leaders together to “identify concrete ways to combat religious persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all.”
Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters he hoped the three-day meeting “will move many countries in the right direction on religious freedom. We think that’s an invaluable part of American diplomacy and the capacity to shape America’s vision in the world.”
Other invitees ranged from Americans representing Southern Baptist, Scientologist, Hindu and Hare Krishna organizations to a delegation of Christian, Muslim and Sikh leaders from the United Arab Emirates. Scheduled speakers include Vice President Mike Pence; Mark Green, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development; and Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget.