The 20th Anniversary of the
International Religious Freedom Act
October 27, 1998-2018
This year marks the 20th anniversary of America’s International Religious Freedom Act, which made the promotion of religious freedom a U.S. foreign policy priority. We reaffirm our stance that all people, in every country, deserve to exercise their right to live according to their conscience: to be free to worship, practice, share, change, and express their beliefs as they see fit.
As part of this International Religious Freedom Act, the State Department annually delivers a report on International Religious Freedom to the United States Congress. The International Religious Freedom Report is a fact-based assessment of violations and abuses of religious freedom across 200 countries. It serves as a crucial account of facts, not assumptions, of religious persecution around the world.
Freedom of religion is America’s first freedom. Freedom of religion is at the very core of the American experience, and is a fundamental human right for every person. The Founding Fathers understood religious freedom to be a universal human right to be protected for the benefit of all.
The ability of Americans to live out their beliefs has been central to our success as a nation. Promoting religious freedom is a moral imperative – but it is also a vital national security issue. Defending religious freedom the world over leads to greater peace, stability, and economic prosperity here at home and in the countries that guarantee this freedom. This is why the Trump Administration included the promotion of religious freedom as part of the U.S. National Security Strategy.
Indeed, no religious community is immune from persecution.
Together we can safeguard the right of religious freedom around the world. Governments, civil society, faith groups, and individuals must work together to advance this cause. Together we must confront and counter those who practice, enable, or export religious persecution or violent extremism.