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Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom: Concluding Remarks by Ambassador Brownback


AMBASSADOR BROWNBACK: Thank you,
and thank you all for participating in this first ever ministerial
to advance religious freedom. We are delighted that you came. Religion is a hot topic;
it is no longer taboo. And as this gathering illustrated, religion has found its way into discussions by government at its highest levels. We believe these conversations are essential
to promoting and in defending religious freedom around the world. And I am certainly encouraged.
And I want to make a declaration. I believe that the Iron Curtain prohibiting religious
freedom is coming down around the world. I think it really starts with this meeting. And proceeding forward from here,
we can bring that down so religious freedom can be a reality
for people around the world, — not just merely words that we have said —
but an actual reality. Forward-leaning nations are seeing the advantages of providing a welcoming environment
to people of all faiths. Minority religious communities can often be
the source of new energy and ideas for a nation. In a competition globally for growth, more open societies have an advantage in attracting talent and capital. And out of the peaceful competition of ideas a marketplace of new possibilities emerges. New ideas come for the future
when old ones are challenged. So I’m glad that we’re starting to see countries
take religious freedom seriously. I was pleased to hear a number of the announcements
here today of things people are doing. In particular I have noted the progress
in the announcement that Uzbekistan has done on religious freedom. We are deeply appreciative of your openness,
their openness, your willingness to discuss at great length how we can move forward in
this highly sensitive and complicated issue. We look forward to working with any country that wants to work with us
to promote religious freedom. We hope to have ministerial-type events like this
in various countries around the world to promote religious freedom. We hope that different countries would hold events
like this to discuss religious freedom in their country because that is where it happens.
It happens in each of our countries. That is where they experience it — either
religious freedom or religious persecution. As Secretary Pompeo mentioned this morning, the Potomac Declaration and the Potomac Plan
of Action, which we will release shortly, reaffirms the United States’ unwavering
commitment to religious freedom and the high level of what we put this issue on
for our agenda as the United States government. We hope that serves as an inspiration to
some other countries who want to make religious freedom a priority or perhaps
even a higher priority. On that note, let’s close this historic ministerial. I will close it with a brief video
featuring quotes from the declaration. I again want to thank you for your support
for religious freedom; it is heartfelt. And if we are successful, there will be millions
— and possibly billions — of people around the world that will experience a freedom — a wave of freedom —
that they have not felt. It really is important to a lot of people. So we look forward to working with you
to make the world a safer and a freer place for people of faith. We do have a final reception for heads of delegation at the Holocaust Museum. That starts at 6:00 o’clock. We will show the video
and then we will be adjourned.

Otis Rodgers

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