CHINA’S DISTURBING DISREGARD FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM IN XINJIANG—AND BEYOND

KATRINA LANTOS SWETT
July 14, 2020

Katrina Lantos Swett is the President of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. She is the former chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She has a J.D. from the University of California, Hastings, and a PhD in History, focusing on Human Rights, from the University of Southern Denmark.

Adeep and abiding commitment to religious freedom is woven into the fabric of American politics and society, starting with the very first line of the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Throughout its history, America’s devotion to religious freedom has often translated into action taken on the human rights issue of religious freedom abroad. The U.S. has a lengthy record of promoting and protecting religious freedom around the world. From the early days of the republic, American diplomats and others advocated for the rights of persecuted religious minorities, such as Christians in the Ottoman Empire and Jews in Russia. In 1998, the “International Religious Freedom Act” codified the U.S. policy of opposing violations of religious freedom while openly promoting respect for religious freedom throughout the world. This Act was born, in large part, from the concern of many American groups and policymakers about the decline of religious freedom globally. 

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