From The Epoch Times
WASHINGTON—A roundtable focusing on religious persecution in China set the stage on July 23 for the U.S. Department of State’s first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. The ministerial signals that the Trump administration intends to place religious freedom at the center of its foreign policy agenda.
Greg Mitchell, co-chair of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable in Washington, hosted the event, which he described as the “kick off” for the ministerial. Dozens of human rights experts and advocates, as well as victims of religious persecution in China, shared their views and personal stories.
Mitchell noted that similar stories of people being tortured and even killed for their religious beliefs have been shared over and over again in the past, but he said things will be different this time.
“It was always the pattern or habit for the government to not put pressure on those governments that are partners, ” said Mitchell.
“We want to change that. The ‘Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom’ sends a message to the world, to the governments of the world, that we are building this global religious freedom movement now.
“Even if you are an economic partner, a national security partner, a partner in the war on terror or nuclear nonproliferation, the U.S. government wants you to be a partner on this now, too, to advance religious freedom.”
In an interview transcript released by the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “This is a big deal, the first time the State Department has ever hosted such a gathering. ”