US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington DC, March 25, 2019.
(photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Friday his decision to elevate the Office of International Religious Freedom along with the Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism within the State Department.
“Effective immediately, each of these two offices will report directly to the under-secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights,” he said, during a press conference to reveal the department’s International Religious Freedom report.
“This reorganization will provide these offices with additional staff and resources, and enhance partnerships both within our agency – within our agency and without. It will empower them to better carry out their important mandates,” he added.
The Annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom is submitted in compliance with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
According to the State Department, “It describes the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, government policies violating religious belief and practices of groups, religious denominations, and individuals, and US policies to promote religious freedom around the world.”
“The mission [of advancing international religious freedom] is not just a Trump administration priority – it’s a deeply personal one. For many years, I was a Sunday school teacher and a deacon at my church,” said Pompeo.
“But in much of the world, governments and groups deny individuals that same unalienable right. People are persecuted – handcuffed, thrown in jail, even killed – for their decision to believe, or not to believe. Go into any mosque, any church, any temple in America, and you’ll hear the same thing: Americans believe that kind of intolerance is deeply wrong.
“That’s why the Trump Administration has promoted religious freedom like never before in our foreign policy agenda,” he continued. “Given our own great freedoms, it’s a distinctly American responsibility to stand up for faith in every nation’s public square.”
Speaking about the findings of the report, Pompeo said, “It’s like a report card. It tracks countries to see how well they’ve respected this fundamental human right.”
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