RFI Executive Vice President Remarks on U.S. Advancement of International Religious Freedom

October 29, 2021

RFI Executive Vice President Eric Patterson, in commemoration of the enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, remarked this week on the current state of religious freedom around the world and the integral role the United States has in defending and advancing this fundamental right.

In an interview on EWTN News Nightly, Patterson commented on the perilous situation for religious minorities in Sudan in the wake a coup that erupted there on Monday. He also discussed developments in Afghanistan (about which he has offered his insights on multiple occasions since the Taliban’s return to power). Noting the distinct threats that government restrictions and social hostilities present to religious freedom, Patterson turned his attention to the plight of marginalized religious communities in China, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Finding a few bright spots, Patterson also observed modest improvements in religious freedom conditions in countries such as Vietnam and Uzbekistan.

Addressing similar themes in World Magazine, Patterson writes:

America stands for religious freedom. Today, Oct. 28, commemorates the International Religious Freedom Act (IRF Act) of 1998. Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, the IRF Act commits the United States to a strategic approach for advancing religious freedom for everyone, everywhere. Christians should be unwavering advocates for this law as an essential pillar in American foreign policy.

As reflected in his article’s title, Patterson urges the United States to “recommit to a global religious freedom strategy.” Patterson underscores this point by alluding to the absence of a consistent religious freedom strategy in U.S. foreign policy since IRFA passed more than two decades ago.

After praising the Biden Administration for nominating “a well-known public servant, Rashad Hussain, to serve as the next ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom,” Patterson concludes by arguing that the “United States [must] recommit to protecting religious freedom abroad and at home.”

Read the full article: Recommitting to a global religious freedom strategy.