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Bonnie Glick on Promoting Religious Freedom

USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick discusses religious freedom on the sidelines of the recent Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom.

Religious freedom and development are “inextricably linked,” said Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Bonnie Glick.

Religious Freedom - Moral Imperative and Challenge
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Religious freedom and development are “inextricably linked,” said Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Bonnie Glick:

“If society does not allow all of its religions to practice freely, their faiths, a society cannot hope to make its way, advancing along its journey to self-reliance. At USAID, we focus on countries on the journey to self-reliance and partner with them. One of the areas in which we partner is on the promotion of religious freedom.”

Deputy Administrator Glick stressed that the United States has a moral responsibility to help other nations. In its Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution lists the right to freedom of religion as the first liberty, said Ms. Glick:

“We view the practice of religion to be something that is a fundamental human right. And so by virtue of it being a fundamental right, we also believe it is a moral responsibility for us as a nation to help other nations to practice religion freely.”

One way the U.S. promotes freedom of religion is by supporting persecuted minority groups, such as Rohingya in Burma, said Deputy Administrator Glick:

“USAID has substantially supported the Rohingya communities in Bangladesh as well as in Burma, as well as the government of Bangladesh, who are graciously supporting the refugee camps in Bangladesh to which the Rohingya have fled.”

Ms. Glick said, USAID is also actively assisting the Yazidi and Christian populations in Iraq, which were decimated by ISIS:

“The United States has sent over 350 million dollars to help rebuild communities in northern Iraq. Yazidi communities, Christian communities, as well, who once numbered a million residents of northern Iraq, and who now number under two-hundred fifty thousand.”

The United States is committed to promoting and protecting religious freedom around the world. “No country can effectively become self-reliant without protecting its most vulnerable communities,” said Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick. “Very often those vulnerable communities are religious minority communities. In order for any country to become truly self-reliant it must protect its most vulnerable populations and it must promote the democratic value of religious freedom.”