Today we had the second ever Ministerial
to Advance Religious Freedom, and we had the largest ever human rights related
gathering at the U.S. Department of State. Religious freedom, what we call our
first freedom, is not merely an American value. It’s a universal one, and it is a
human right. Too many people in too many places suffer violence and persecution
merely from exercising that human right. Thanks to our President and
Vice President, USAID and others are working to offer some relief and
assistance to those who have suffered so very much. We’re working with 57 new
local partners, 13 faith-based groups and 35 international organizations providing
urgent relief and humanitarian assistance to devastated communities. At
this week’s ministerial we come together as one. Muslim and Jew. Christian and Hindu.
Buddhists and Bahai. And more. We’re speaking up for the rights of
worshipers. Not merely here at home but in far-off lands. Not really for those of
our own faith, but for those of others as well.
USAID will proudly join all of you in that effort.