THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH, 1999
Warm greetings to all those observing the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.
Throughout my Presidency, I have strived to promote the cause of international religious freedom. I am proud that my Administration has completed the first phase outlined in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. In September, we published the first annual report on the status of religious freedom worldwide; and in October, we publicly designated the most severe violators of religious freedom.
On this special occasion, we pause to reflect on the importance of religious freedom and the profound role that religion continues to play in the lives of citizens around the world. Throughout human history, religion has helped countless individuals address profound questions about life and the universe. Across the globe, in places large and small, we have seen the resilience and depth of the human desire to worship freely.
We have also seen in our own communities and in other nations around the world the violence and human tragedy spawned by hatred, intolerance, and fear born of ignorance -- even ignorance of one another's religion. But religion encourages us to recognize our capacity for forgiveness and love. On this sacred day, we pray most fervently to Almighty God to change the hearts of those who persecute others and to help us in building just communities united in understanding, compassion, and mutual respect.
Best wishes to all for a blessed observance.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
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