Washington D.C., Mar 26, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- “It is more dangerous now than any time in history to be a person of faith,” said Ambassador Sam Brownback at an event marking the second anniversary of U.S. recognition that the Islamic State committed genocide against religious minorities, including Christians, in Syria and Iraq.
Brownback, who was sworn-in as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom last month, said that religious freedom should be advanced in U.S. national security policy, assistance programs, and economic strategies.
“I would like to see religious freedom be for this administration what climate change was for the last,” said Brownback at the March 23 event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.
“ISIS’ Genocide of Christians: The Past, Present and Future of Christians in the Middle East” brought together human rights experts, academics, and religious freedom advocates to examine how best to address the threats posed to religious minorities by extremist groups such as the Islamic State.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously “that the atrocities perpetrated by ISIL against religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria include war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide” in March 2016. Shortly after, Secretary of State John Kerry named Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims as victims of genocide in the region.
While the panel discussions focused on Christians in the Middle East, Brownback also spoke of threats to religious liberty throughout the world. He highlighted the plight of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims in China, and Catholic leaders in Venezuela, who came under fire from President Nicolas Maduro for speaking out about the country’s current crisis.
Brownback called for alliances between the political left and right in working towards greater religious freedom abroad urging, “We are at a critical moment for the future of religious minorities globally.”
He also asked for prayers for the persecuted and for those involved in religious freedom causes.
“By God’s grace, life always triumphs over death, freedom overcomes oppression, and faith extinguishes fear. This is the source of our hope and our confidence in the future,” said Brownback.