May 1999

The Final Report of the Secretary of State(s Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom Abroad offers a thoughtful, balanced, and comprehensive framework for more effective work on the part of the U.S. government in promoting and protecting religious freedom around the world.

The formation of this committee and the support it received from the State Department are a sign of a higher priority being given religious liberty. The Committee(s work has already contributed to the wider effort to give religious freedom the place it deserves in U.S. foreign policy.

The value of the Final Report lies in its attention both to the principles that should undergird the U.S. government(s approach to religious freedom abroad as well as the practical steps that must be taken if these principles are to be institutionalized in U.S. policy. The Report also includes helpful proposals for addressing the often misunderstood role of religion in conflict situations.

As a pastor and bishop, I am all too familiar with the human face of religious persecution around the world. Having just returned from Albania and the Middle East, I am keenly aware of the crimes that are committed in the name of religion as well as the courageous and selfless work of so many who are inspired by their religious faith to stand up for human rights and bring peace where there is none.

I pray that this important report will be more than just a praiseworthy document, but will help raise the curtain on the too-often-ignored problem of religious persecution, and will lead to more effective work by our government, religious institutions, human rights groups, and others on behalf of religious freedom.

I also hope that the newly-appointed Independent Commission on Religious Freedom, of which I am privileged to be a member, will build on the important work of the Advisory Committee and continue to move our nation forward in addressing these vital human rights issues. 

Most Reverend Theodore E. McCarrick
Archbishop of Newark
Member, Advisory Committee