Lead by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the State Department kicked off the world's largest religious freedom event in Washington D.C. Tuesday morning at the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. Hundreds of activists and diplomats from all over the globe will be in attendance this week.
"We’ve invited more than 100 foreign delegations, more than 1,000 representatives here. And I want to just be here as we kick this off today for a moment to say my personal welcome," Pompeo said during his opening remarks. "We’ve got folks from civil society and from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Falun Gong, and other secular backgrounds. We welcome you all. You all traveled from far corners, distant places around the world."
The ministerial will take place over the course of three days and conclude on Thursday with a visit from Vice President Mike Pence.
"We all agree that fighting so that each person is free to believe, free to assemble, and to teach the tenets of his or her own faith is not optional – indeed, it is a moral imperative that this be permitted. All people from every place on the globe must be permitted to practice their faith openly – in their homes, in their places of worship, in the public square – and believe what they want to believe," Pompeo continued. "This week, we need input from all of you on how we can best advance that religious freedom...I want you to know that America’s commitment to religious freedom will never waver. We stand with you and for you in each stage of this fight."
Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was recently released after being held hostage in Turkey, will attend.
During a recent trip to London, Pompeo hosted a religious freedom roundtable with a number of faith leaders from the UK and other countries.