Five Things to Know About this Year’s International Religious Freedom Report Release

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The year 2018 Marks the 20th anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act

In 1998, Congress overwhelmingly passed the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Act –groundbreaking and bipartisan legislation that affirmed the importance of promoting international religious freedom as a key aspect of America’s foreign policy.  President Clinton signed it into law on October 27, 1998.  This law created the position of IRF Ambassador at Large to lead the U.S. government’s efforts, as well as an IRF Office.

The Secretary of State announced the first-ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom

Promoting and defending religious freedom is a priority for this Administration.  To elevate the effort to ensure that everyone is able to live in accordance with the dictates of their conscience, Secretary Pompeo will host the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom in Washington on July 25-26.  We will convene government and religious leaders, rights advocates, and civil society from around the world to discuss challenges, identify concrete means to push back against persecution and discrimination, and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all.

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The report conveys an objective accounting of religious freedom developments

The IRF Report annually assesses the state of religious freedom in 200 countries and territories.  In each report, we seek to objectively convey information on incidents that have occurred, and what governments and civil society actors are doing and saying about the state of religious freedom in a particular country.

The report directly informs the U.S. government’s actions

Drawing upon the issues and concerns outlined in the annual Report, U.S. officials formulate policy responses, including diplomatic engagement or foreign assistance programs to address abuses and violations of religious freedom in foreign countries.  The reports also inform the Secretary of State’s religious freedom designations.

The report is a conversation-starter

Over the years the audience for the Report has continued to grow.  Today, it is used by a multitude of domestic and international audiences, including the U.S. Congress, academic researchers, foreign governments and legislators, human rights advocates, religious communities, and citizens seeking to better understand the actions regarding religious freedom of governments around the world.

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