Religious freedom is often called America’s first freedom. It is the first freedom America’s founders included in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Speaking at the recently concluded Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Vice President Mike Pence, declared the United States will continue to lead the world by example in promoting this freedom.
The Vice President expressed concern over growing religious intolerance in many countries around the world, including countries in Europe. In Russia, for example, more than 170,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses are legally banned from practicing their faith. Government agents have seized Jehovah Witnesses’ headquarters near St. Petersburg, raided their prayer halls across the country, and arrested and imprisoned scores of believers.
Just 70 years after the Holocaust, attacks on Jews in Europe, even on aging Holocaust survivors, are growing at an alarming rate.
The United States is also concerned about increasing incidents of anti-Muslim hatred. The United States is working with many European governments and multilateral organizations, like the European Union and Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim discrimination.
The American people will always cherish religious freedom. And we will always stand with people across the world, including in Europe, who stand for their faith.