"To believers across America, I say: Pray for Pastor Brunson. While he is out of jail, he is still not free," Pence said.
Secretary Pompeo announced several other religious freedom initiatives on the final day of the State Department Ministerial, including a new International Religious Freedom Fund, International Visitor Leadership Program, and a three-day public-private partnership workshop in religious freedom called "Boldline."
The State Department Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom will become an annual event, and the U.S. will support other countries who plan to host their own religious freedom conferences. Vice President Pence underscored that religious freedom was an ongoing foreign policy priority
"Today, tragically, a stunning 83 percent of the world's population live in nations where religious freedom is either threatened or even banned," said Pence.
"But as our Founders knew, this precious liberty is endowed not by government, but by our Creator. And we believe that it belongs not just to the American people, but to all people so endowed."
Pence spoke out against the persecution of religious minorities in Iran, Russia, China, and North Korea. He also lamented the rise in anti-semitism in Europe.
The vice president highlighted the story of a Catholic priest in Nicaragua, Father Raul Zamora, whose parish was attacked by paramilitary forces earlier this month.
"In Nicaragua, the government of Daniel Ortega is virtually waging war on the Catholic Church. For months, Nicaragua's bishops have sought to broker a national dialogue following pro-democracy protests that swept through the country earlier this year"
"But government-backed mobs armed with machetes, and even heavy weapons, have attacked parishes and church properties, and bishops and priests have been physically assaulted by the police."
Addressing Fr. Zamora directly, Pence said "Let me say to you, Father: Our prayers are with you, and the people of America stand with you for freedom of religion and freedom in Nicaragua."
Pence concluded his remarks to the more than 80 foreign delegations attending the Ministerial with a quote from Leviticus that is inscribed on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, and unto [all] the inhabitants thereof."
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