The annual International Religious Freedom Summit, now in its second year, brought together individuals of widely disparate political, personal and religious persuasions for support, coalition and broad agreement on the crucial subject of international religious freedom.
Over a thousand attendees witnessed an international tapestry of 85 distinguished religious leaders, government officials, scholars, executives, journalists and celebrities, as well as representatives from both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill—including Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Republican Senator Marco Rubio. They convened for 30 hours over three days conducting seminars, discussion groups and networking, all in the cause of spotlighting religious persecution around the world.
The stated purpose of the Summit was to “raise the profile of international religious freedom on a wide variety of issues…grow the grassroots and global movement for religious freedom…and embolden civil society, people of faith and governments to take a stand for religious freedom.”
Cochairing the summit was Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, and Sam Brownback, former U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
Bipartisan support and contribution included presentations by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Marco Rubio, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Just under 80 percent of the world’s population lives in areas of high levels of constraint on the free practice of religion.
As Amjad Khan who served as cochair for the summit’s congressional advocacy day said, “We have people who don’t agree politically on anything, but they agree on this…They’re very few things on Capitol Hill where people can come together protecting prisoners of conscience, speaking against religious oppression, focusing on real lives that are being affected by the genocide…”
Echoing Mr. Khan’s sentiments, Congressman French Hill said, “Religious freedom, both in our country as well as around the world, has been a real point of bipartisanship.”
A sample of topics discussed shows how wide-ranging and ambitious the Summit was this year: China’s Hideous Science of Forced Organ Harvesting; Solutions to Advancing Religious Freedom in the Face of Rising Persecution; Doubly Persecuted: Montagnard & Hmong Christians in Vietnam; Religious Minority Women: Overcoming Persecution; Victims of “Polite” Persecution; India on the Brink: Impending Genocide of Religious Minorities; and Combatting Antisemitism.
It was a hands-on, head-on confrontation of the dangerous state of religious freedom internationally and a true meeting of minds and hearts to tip the scales back to the recognition and practice of the human right to religious equality everywhere.
As Summit Cochair, Dr. Lantos Swett said, “We go beyond simply walking with like-minded people and sharing our joint passion for this cause and really bring it to the desks and to the doorsteps, and hopefully into the hearts and minds.”
From its beginnings, the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than 50 years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church publishes this blog to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.
DOWNLOAD THE WHITEPAPER