Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Faith Leaders Express Deep Concern Over State Department’s Human Rights Report
Press Release

RELEASE: Faith Leaders Express Deep Concern Over State Department’s Human Rights Report

Washington, D.C. — Today, more than 30 faith leaders signed a statement expressing grave concerns about a draft report on human rights issued by the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights.

The leaders—who include Catholic, evangelical, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and Buddhist leaders, as well as former State Department officials—warn that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s effort to elevate religious freedom and property rights above other human rights will weaken religious freedom itself and undermine the protections for the universal values of human dignity.

The statement says that freedom of religion must never be used as a pretext to diminish other rights or to justify infringing upon other universal human rights.

“We know from Secretary Pompeo’s repeated comments, including at Thursday’s public presentation of the report, that he will seek to use the Commission’s report to justify marginalizing certain rights, thus diminishing human rights advocacy and stifling demands for accountability for those whose rights have been violated,” the statement says.

“Such politicization of human rights—and of freedom of religion in particular—is dangerous, particularly now when the forces of authoritarianism are on the rise globally,” the statement says. “We urge members of the commission to consider the risks of complicity in such an effort and use this comment period to ensure that the final version of the commission’s report firmly upholds the universality and indivisibility of rights as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Read the statement here.

For more information on this topic or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at [email protected] or 202-478-6327.