July conference will look at religious freedom worldwide
Local faith leaders asked to join religious freedom efforts
COLORADO SPRINGS. During a recent stop in Colorado Springs, former Kansas Governor Sam Brownback announced that an international summit on religious freedom will take place in Washington, D.C., from July 25-26. Brownback serves as Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom in the U.S. State Dept.
Speaking at a press conference at Glen Eyrie Castle on June 11, Brownback said that the purpose of the conference is to give secretaries of state from around the world an opportunity to hear from religious leaders and representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about the challenges faced by people of faith in the various countries in which they operate.
“Over 70 percent of the world’s population lives in religiously-restrictive environment,” Brownback said. “Many places have religious freedom on paper — in their constitutions or in their statutes — but not in practice,” Brownback said. “What people experience is a lot of persecution. It can be subtle or it can be deadly.”
Following the June 11 press briefing, Brownback participated in a town hall meeting at Glen Eyrie with local religious leaders, including Bishop Michael Sheridan. Brownback said that he chose to promote the conference in Colorado Springs because the city is home to a large number of faith-based organizations, many of which have first-hand knowledge of religious persecution overseas.
Brownback said that, as he travels from country to country, one of the biggest problems he sees is governments trying to combat terrorism by stifling religious expression for all citizens.
“That is completely counterproductive,” Brownback said. “If you broadly suppress a group of people, they are going to fight you. (But) if you give people more religious freedom, you will have less terrorism.”