Statement by Ambassador Callista L. Gingrich
International Religious Freedom Day
Today we celebrate International Religious Freedom Day, marking the 22nd anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act. The passage of the IRF Act made the advancement of international religious freedom a U.S. foreign policy priority.
The right to worship freely is often called America’s first freedom. Our founding fathers understood religious freedom not as the state’s creation but as an unalienable right from God.
Unfortunately, for millions around the world, religious freedom is under threat or restricted. Over 80 percent of the world’s population lives in countries with high or severe restrictions on religious freedom. In far too many places across the globe, governments and others prevent individuals from living in accordance with their conscience.
The protection of international religious freedom is a priority for President Trump and the United States government. Upholding the right to religious freedom is not just morally necessary, it is a national security imperative. When nations effectively promote and protect religious freedom, they are safer, more prosperous, and secure.
Advancing and defending the universal right of religious freedom is a shared goal for the United States and the Holy See. Our collaboration with the Holy See provides a unique opportunity to protect and preserve this fundamental human right.
On this International Religious Freedom Day, we reaffirm our commitment to build partnerships with the Holy See and other like-minded nations to uphold religious freedom. Together, with common purpose and firm conviction, we can safeguard this fundamental human right.