Farr argued that Ambassador Johnson Cook would be more effective in her position if she were elevated to the same level as other officials who work directly under the secretary of state. In addition, he said, she must be given “the resources to succeed.”
Other efforts must also be made, he added, such as the implementation of mandatory religious freedom training for diplomats.
Farr explained that lack of religious freedom is “a major cause of democratic instability,” as well as “a powerful stimulus to religion-related terrorism.”
These factors make promoting religious freedom “solidly in the interests of the American people,” he said.
During the Jan. 23 dialogue, the importance of global religious liberty was also emphasized by Seiple. He called religious freedom the foundational “first freedom,” and argued that “religious freedom is not about tolerance.”
“Tolerance isn’t good enough,” he said. “We have to have mutual respect.”
Seiple also observed the importance of domestic religious freedom.
“It’s got to start at home,” he said. “If it doesn’t start here, don’t you dare go abroad.”
Religious freedom within the United States has recently been called into question.
In the past week, Catholics have joined with leaders of religious organizations across the country to decry the finalized “preventative services” mandate announced Jan. 20 by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The organizations argue that the mandate violates their freedom of religion by forcing them to purchase health insurance plans that cover sterilization, contraception and abortion-casing drugs against the teachings of their religion.
(Story continues below)
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