As former State Department Deputy Undersecretary for International Religious Freedom Thomas Farr points out in a recent issue of First Things, the United States must no longer allow religion to be consigned to the realm of the irrelevant by our diplomatic corps; the "secular myopia" that prevails within the diplomatic community must be abandoned. If we are to understand nations and peoples defined by religious identification, we must stop behaving as if religion is the pastime of the unenlightened.
Diplomatically, we must galvanize the International Religious Freedom Act; see religious freedom as a non-negotiable cornerstone to any fledgling democratic state; insist that our allies protect the religious rights of all citizens, regardless of whether their beliefs comport with the state’s or not (e.g., Copts in Egypt); ask that U.S. officials, when meeting with leaders of "Countries of Particular Concern," name and inquire about the status of prisoners of conscience; and do more than merely issue reports on the incidences of religious freedom abuses worldwide.
It further means keeping religious freedom concerns on the forefront of any legislative agenda and to the extent we are able, supporting indigenous religious freedom movements worldwide. To this end, I founded and lead the bicameral Congressional Working Group on Religious Freedom, which updates members of congress, their staff, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on incidences of religious persecution, and works to keep the promotion of liberty and freedom in the minds of my congressional colleagues.
Concerning Mr. Wu, I wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on April 27th and urged her to do all she can to work toward his release. I have also sent a letter of inquiry to the Chinese Ambassador seeking answers as to why Mr. Wu is being held, and what the Chinese government intends to do with him.
Ronald Reagan once said, "Given the freedom to choose, people choose freedom.” We know this to be true from the recent elections in Iraq and Afghanistan. And while we recognize that the first fruits of electoral freedom might sometimes be distasteful or even unacceptable, as in the case of Abdul Rahman in Afghanistan, we recognize that our opportunity to spread the seeds of freedom is the calling of our time.
Former Senator Rick Santorum is the author of It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good. He is writing a second book on the “Gathering Storm of the 21st Century” – the war against a radical, Islamic fascist enemy and its growing alliances around the world.
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