US called to strengthen policies on freedom of religion and belief

A multi-faith network has published a letter calling on the US government to do more to protect and promote international religious freedom.

The US-based International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable is made up of organisations and individuals across the faiths advocating for freedom of religion or belief.

The letter warns that the current state of international religious freedom is "one of deepening crisis".

It urges the United States to strengthen its IRF policy so that freedom of religion, conscience, and belief "is protected and promoted, resulting in reduced persecution and repression, as well as greater security and stability worldwide".

The IRF also wants measures to strengthen the mechanisms of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), which "have been allowed to wither and atrophy".

"IRF policy has not been integrated into US foreign policy and national security, and we have not had a significant impact on other governments," the letter states.

The letter was published following the second annual IRF event on Capitol Hill, which was co-hosted by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW).

CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, "Together with the IRF Roundtable, we urge the US government to engage fully with the recommendations in this letter.

"In the week when the EU published new Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief ,affirming its commitment to addressing violations of this right, we encourage the US government to strengthen its policies in order to ensure a systematic, co-ordinated approach to the defence and promotion of this right worldwide."