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International Religious Freedom, a Key U.S. Foreign Policy Goal


Tu Shouzhe stands on his Protestant church's roof hours after Chinese government workers came and cut down the building's cross, at right, in Muyang Village in Pingyang County in eastern China's Zhejiang Province. (File)

The United States is committed to promoting and expanding respect for religious freedom and tolerance across the globe.

International Religious Freedom, a Key U.S. Foreign Policy Goal
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The United States is committed to promoting and expanding respect for religious freedom and tolerance across the globe. It’s not “just a reflection of who we are as Americans, but of strategic national interest to the United States and a key foreign policy objective,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power.

“We know that when countries promote religious freedom and protect religious minorities, democracy is more stable, communities are more likely to develop equitably and prosper, the rights of women and girls are more likely to be protected, and overall quality of life improves.”

Administrator Power said, “Research indicates that GDP growth rates in countries where religious restrictions and hostilities decreased, grew at double the rate of countries where restrictions substantially increased.” Additionally, “Countries which stigmatize or oppress religious minorities or restrict the opportunity to worship freely, are more prone to instability and conflict.”

“ Denying religious freedoms is associated with higher levels of social conflict and violence. In fact, countries with high government restrictions on religion are more than twice as likely to witness social conflict as those with low or no restrictions.”

Indeed, it has become clear that unless people are free to worship according to their conscience, and until people of all faiths have access to holy sites and places of worship, there will be no lasting peace, said Administrator Power.

It is no wonder then that President Joe Biden has made it clear that as far as U.S. Foreign Policy is concerned, development is just as important as defense and diplomacy. That is why, said Administrator Power, “in coordination with USAID’s Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, dedicated development professionals at USAID respond to human rights violations, work to prevent atrocities and preserve culture, and protect religious freedom for all people.”

"There have long been divergent approaches to advancing international religious freedom, but there is common ground in recognizing that it is a clear, distinct human right and central to the stability and peace of this world that we all share.”

The United States, said Administrator Power, “Will keep standing for religious freedom around the world. We will remain humble and grateful for the freedoms we cherish here at home, and pray that through God’s grace and wisdom, we have the capacity to affirm dignity and to secure freedom for more people around the world.”

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