Pompeo issues declaration calling for world governments to prioritize religious freedom

Pompeo issues declaration calling for world governments to prioritize religious freedom
© Anna Moneymaker

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoPoll: Biden, Trump statistically tied in favorability Majority of voters disapprove of execution of Afghanistan withdrawal: poll Sunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant MORE rolled out a document on Thursday urging governments around the world to prioritize religious freedom, further elevating an issue that the Trump administration has pushed since last year.

The Potomac Declaration and an accompanying plan of action were released at the inaugural Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom conference in Washington, D.C.

The declaration states that "religious freedom is a far-reaching, universal, and profound human right that all peoples and nations of good will must defend around the globe."


Pompeo touted it as an effort to make good on President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE's promise to make religious freedom a "key priority" of his foreign policy.

"The Potomac Declaration is a formal affirmation that says right up front that the United States takes religious freedom seriously, that we will work with others around the world to help those under attack for their beliefs, and that we expect leaders around the world to make it their priority as well," Pompeo said. 

Trump has elevated the topic of religious freedom since taking office last year. But critics have expressed concern about whether his administration has sought to help certain religious groups over others.

The issue of religious freedom is also a key political issue for Trump, who won overwhelmingly among evangelical voters in the 2016 presidential election and relies on those voters as an important part of his base.

But Trump's travel ban, which bars people from several Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S., has faced criticism from some who have accused it of being a thinly veiled effort to keep Muslims out of the country. The Supreme Court upheld that ban last month. 

The Trump administration has also sought to provide more aid to religious minorities in northern Iraq, particularly Christians and Yazidis. Just last month, the U.S. Agency for International Development, facing pressure from Vice President Pence, fast-tracked million of dollars in aid to persecuted groups in the country.