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A global movement to push for religious freedom rights worldwide has begun, U.S. Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said at a United Nations event focused on religious freedom.  Along with Brownback, advocates from around the world were invited to speak about religious freedom issues impacting their communities.  The event moderator was Monsignor Tomasz Grysa, deputy permanent observer of the Holy See to the U.N. He laid out the troubling landscape for religious freedom worldwide and said there has been a steady rise in persecution and discrimination against Christians, Muslims, Jews and other religious followers across the globe.

Brownback, a former U.S. senator, followed Grysa by asking specifically why there has been an increase in religious persecution worldwide when most countries have agreed to the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights that is supposed to protect an individual’s right to religious freedom.  “80% of the world’s population lives in a religiously restricted atmosphere,” Brownback said.  “How can we tolerate this continuing situation?  You just heard of countries, places and faith communities that are being persecuted when, in fact, they are guaranteed this right in most constitutions and by the U.N. Charter.” “Why do we tolerate this situation?”

A 2018 U.N. report found that there are 24 nations with official state religions that impose “very high” or “high” levels of restrictions on religious practices while another 11 countries with “favoured religions” have similar religious restrictions.  Brownback stressed that there are “dire situations” facing many religious minority communities in countries that have agreed to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Examples are the 1 million Uighurs imprisoned in China, the nearly 1 million Rohingyas pushed out of Myanmar in an apparent genocide, and the genocide perpetrated against Christians and Yazidis by Islamic State.

“The situation is dire.  We can’t just keep talking about it,” Brownback said.  “I appreciate and support the efforts of countries here at the U.N. to start a ‘Friends of Freedom of Religion or Belief’ group at the United Nations,” Brownback said.  “I understand Poland is leading that effort and Hungary is going to be a part of it and hopefully others will join that effort to push for religious freedom at the United Nations.”  Brownback said that the U.S. is working with six different countries that are launching their own religious freedom roundtables similar to the one hosted by the U.S. government.  Those roundtables will hopefully spark advocacy groups in those countries as well.

Source:  The Christian Post