Religious freedom summit opens with stories of religious violence and resilience

Religion News Service | 7/16/2019 | Staff
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WASHINGTON (RNS) — The rabbi of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, site of an October mass shooting, tries to avoid using the word “hate” and wishes others would do the same.

A Muslim man who lost his wife in the March attack on his New Zealand mosque urges love for every human being.

Woman - Sri - Lanka - Leaders - Wake

A Christian woman from Sri Lanka hopes religious leaders will remain compassionate even in the wake of terrorist bombings that killed Christians attending Easter services in the spring.

All three spoke at the opening of the State Department’s second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom on Tuesday (July 16). They shared first-person stories of violence against houses of worship — and resilience of survivors — that help fuel the department’s goal to enhance religious liberty across the globe.

Ambassador-at-large - International - Religious - Freedom - Sam

Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said the Trump administration wants to ramp up attention to killings and persecution based on religious beliefs and reverse trends that show they are often on the increase in countries across the world.

“Whether Baha’is, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Zoroastrians or others — and there are many other faiths represented here — or no faith at all, people from every religion and belief experience persecution somewhere and often it’s deadly,” Brownback said in opening remarks.

Stand - Agreement - World - Deaths - Imprisonments

“Yet, if all the faiths stand together in agreement for one another, I’m convinced we can change the world. Deaths would go down, imprisonments would decline, freedom of worship would flourish.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said more than 1,000 people, including more than 100 foreign delegations, were invited to the gathering, an increase from some 80 delegations last year. In a brief welcome, he called fighting for freedom of belief “a moral imperative” and “not optional.”

Leaders - Abrahamic - Faiths - Stories - Violence

Leaders from three Abrahamic faiths shared their own stories of experiencing religious violence in the past year.

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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