New Report Urges Religious Freedom for Everyone, Everywhere
In a country where the right to worship freely has historically been a tenet of society upheld by the Constitution, we continue to see a fight for religious freedom — Monday’s victory for Coach Joe Kennedy is a prime example. Yet, while many Americans are fixated on the major headlines in mainstream media from this past week, the international battle for religious freedom wages on as persecution thrives in many countries today.
In the world today, the international religious freedom (IRF) landscape has seen persecution such as Finnish Parliament member Päivi Räsänen who expressed her Christian views on marriage and was charged with “hate speech” leading to potential jail time. American Pastor Andrew Brunson experienced persecution from a Turkish prison cell after being wrongly accused of terrorist links. Reverend Bob Fu and his wife spent time in a Beijing prison for sharing the gospel through their house church. Thanks to the disregard of many corporate giants such as Nike and Disney, Uyghur Muslims have been experiencing gross human rights atrocities through a genocide happening in labor camps in Xinjiang, China, for the past several years. Recently, Christians in Burkina Faso experienced bloodshed at the hands of Islamic extremists.
The list goes on — which is why, this week, Family Research Council and Regent University launched a report titled, “Why International Religious Freedom is Vital to International Development: Causal Connections and Policy Recommendations.” In this two-part report, authors Dr. A. J. Nolte (Regent University) and Arielle Del Turco (FRC) delve into the role that international religious freedom plays in a country’s development, and how the U.S. government could better champion that freedom through their foreign policy efforts.
The official press release explains, “The report focuses on how agencies responsible for administering America’s foreign development assistance should promote religious freedom abroad. This report also points to the evidence that economic growth can only be fully realized for developing nations when religious freedom is protected.”
“This report is a deep dive into not only why the U.S. government should invest in religious freedom projects, but also how American policymakers can take practical steps to make a difference,” Del Turco, FRC’s assistant director for the Center for Religious Liberty and co-author of the publication, shared with The Washington Stand. “It’s the first research report to do so, and it is our hope that policymakers will take these ideas and run with it.”
The report’s publication date coincides with the week of the International Religious Freedom Summit taking place in Washington, D.C., a three-day event featuring many notable speakers such as former Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Samuel Brownback, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Räsänen, basketball player Enes Kanter Freedom, and others, which TWS will continue to track.
Dr. Nolte emphasized the importance of the research presented in the IRF report, sharing with TWS, “This research is critical, because it connects the growing body of research demonstrating religious freedom’s positive impact on international development with practical policy recommendations to make U.S. development assistance more effective.”
Del Turco believes it is important for people to be aware of what is happening around the world because it affects them. “What happens around the world often hits closer to home than most Americans realize,” she explains. “When violence against religious groups festers, it can affect American national security too. This makes investing in the development of other countries valuable, and it’s why promoting religious freedom in these developing countries and helping them establish peaceful, stable societies that protect human rights is so important.”
Marjorie Jackson is a reporter for The Washington Stand and FRC's Digital Media Specialist.