With the goal of expanding religious freedom worldwide, thousands of leaders across the globe are meeting in Washington this week for the International Religious Freedom Summit, according to CBN News. At the summit, those suffering from religious persecution will be highlighted and leaders of the free world will be urged to try to make a difference and be a voice for those who don’t have one.
Included in the nations in the spotlight are China and Russia where religious persecution has brought a tremendous amount of suffering to their people. Former Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, declared China to be the greatest threat to religious freedom. With the severe mistreatment of Uyghurs, Tibetans, and other faiths, China’s authoritarian regime remains a threat to many. Brownback fears that China will expand their model of religious intolerance and persecution.
Dr. Yang Jianli, with the Citizens Power Initiatives for China, has pointed to communism as the reason for the severe level of religious intolerance. Jianli said, “ultimately the reason China has no tolerance of all faiths is because the CCP wishes to replace human need to worship with a substituted religion centered around the Party.” He called on leaders of the free world to condemn China’s behavior like they have Putin’s in Russia.
Organizers at the summit believe religious freedom is not only a human rights issue, but an important issue of foreign policy. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) pointed out that it is often nations where repression and instability are “the norm” that religious freedom is most at risk. Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX) said, “protecting religious freedom is not just about doing what’s right, it’s also a matter of national security. By resolving conflict, we can help prevent terrorism at home and abroad. As religious freedoms advance, conflict recedes.”
With the efforts this week at the summit, leaders are hopeful that religious freedom will become a priority for governments of the free world. McGovern spoke to that point declaring that, “in our very diverse world, unless the right to religious freedom exists for everyone, it doesn’t truly exist for anyone.”