The United States was the first nation founded on a commitment to universal rights for all human beings. “The most fundamental of these rights,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a speech in Indonesia, “is the right to freedom of conscience, including religious freedom.”
“America’s respect for God-given rights is the defining feature of our national spirit,” declared Secretary Pompeo:
“It’s why America stood tallest among Western democracies in supporting [Indonesia’s] independence from colonial rule and has been a stalwart supporter of Indonesia’s transition to democracy over these past two decades. The fact that our people embrace freedom and uphold a tradition of tolerance is very special.”
Embedded in Indonesia’s vibrant democracy is a desire to see people of all faiths live together in harmony. This is reflected in its constitution, which clearly states that every person shall be free to practice the religion of his or her choice. “There is literally no reason that Islam can’t co-exist peacefully alongside Christianity or Buddhism,” said Secretary Pompeo.
“Indonesia’s traditional spirit of tolerance and pluralism must be nurtured now more than ever,” said Secretary Pompeo:
“Blasphemy accusations, which destroy lives, have become more common. Discrimination against non-official religions renders their practitioners second class citizens who are subject to abuse and deprivation.”
Secretary Pompeo went on to urge “more religious leaders to speak out on behalf of people of all faiths wherever their rights are being violated. We need more religious leaders to be a moral witness.”
One of those places is in Burma where the military has violently oppressed Rohingya and other minorities. Indonesia has pushed ASEAN to live up to its humanitarian ideals, but progress on justice remains stalled, said Secretary Pompeo.
But, the gravest threat to the future of religious freedom, warned Secretary Pompeo, is the Chinese Communist Party’s war against people of all faiths: Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Falun Gong practitioners alike.
God-given unalienable rights are the birthright of every people, said Secretary Pompeo. That’s why “free people of free nations must defend those rights.”