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Virtual Event: Advancing Religious Freedom in U.S. Foreign Policy and Foreign Assistance: Policy and Practice

December 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EST

Since the passage of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton, successive administrations have given increasing attention and resources to the promotion of International Religious Freedom as a priority of U.S. foreign policy.

The threats to religious freedom continue to rise, with the latest report from the Pew Research Center recording the highest level of government restrictions on religion since it started tracking these figures in 2007. Social hostilities whether in the form of attacks on houses of worship, mob violence, or terrorist attacks also continue to threaten religious individuals and communities around the world.

Over the last four years, the United States has continued to push forward the more than 20-year legacy of International Religious Freedom policy. U.S. leadership has helped to galvanize an international coalition to advance this fundamental human right in the IRFB Alliance of more than 30 countries, through the annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, engagement with the growing network of civil society-led International Religious Freedom roundtables, and multilateral engagement at the United Nations and other fora.

With Executive Order 13926, IRF policy, as established by the International Religious Freedom Act (1998) and expanded with the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (2016), was given additional resources and an increased priority requiring religious freedom to be strategically integrated by the State Department into foreign policy and by USAID into foreign assistance.

To discuss the opportunities for implementation of that executive order and its importance, RFI President Tom Farr, founding director of the Office of International Religious Freedom, will host a conversation with Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom at the Department of State, and Samah Norquist, Chief Advisor for International Religious Freedom at U.S. Agency for International Development, and discussant Chris Seiple, Principal Advisor, Templeton Religion Trust.