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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 22, 1997


Report on Religious Freedom

I welcome today's release of the Secretary of State's report on United States Policies in Support of Religious Freedom. Promoting religious freedom around the world is a key part of our human rights policy and an important focus of our diplomacy.

Today's report will help shine a spotlight on the serious problem of religious intolerance and persecution. It also underscores the importance of concerted actions by the United States and other like-minded nations to promote religious freedom.

The report fulfills a Congressional request for a summary of U.S. policies to reduce and eliminate persecution against Christians around the world. It also describes our efforts to address religious persecution more broadly, which have included defending the rights of Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Baha'is and others to practice their faiths freely. Religious freedom is a fundamental human right, and the United States vigorously condemns persecution against any believer and all faiths.

Our nation was founded by men and women seeking refuge from religious persecution. Religious freedom is the first freedom guaranteed in our Bill of Rights. I am pleased that our nation has been a leader in promoting religious rights - including through the establishment last year of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad, through our willingness to press for religious liberty at the United Nations and in our relations with other nations, and through our determination to report fairly and accurately on these issues around the world. Today's report is part of America's larger commitment to help people of all faiths to live free of persecution and to worship in the freedom that is their birthright.