Monday, May 20, 2024

International Religious Freedom Day – 25th Anniversary of IRFA

As we commemorate the 25th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), we reaffirm the United States’ strong and enduring commitment to advancing religious freedom for everyone, everywhere.  This instrumental legislation provided a range of new tools to give voice to the persecuted, to empower advocates, and to promote religious freedom around the world.  Freedom of religion or belief is a bedrock American value.  Twenty-five years ago, when President Clinton signed the International Religious Freedom Act into law, he noted, “When we promote religious freedom, we also promote freedom of expression, conscience, and association, and other human rights.”  The right to freedom of religion or belief, including the freedom to think and worship in our own way, to follow our consciences, and to change our beliefs is inextricably linked to so many rights we hold dear.  When freedom of religion or belief is at risk, those other freedoms are jeopardized as well.  Some 80 percent of the world’s population still cannot live their lives in accordance with their most basic values and beliefs without serious restrictions or risk, and that has consequences for us all.

Our Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, Rashad Hussain, and his team have been traveling the globe to address discriminatory laws and policies, advocate for those who’ve been unfairly targeted, and promote tolerance and respect.  We are joined in these efforts by a coalition of 37 countries – the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance.  People of all faiths and beliefs deserve to live free from fear and oppression.  The State Department and the entire United States government will continue standing for the right of every single person on Earth to worship and believe as they choose.

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