Council Attends US Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom
Middle East Council of Churches Evangelical Family President, Rev. Dr. Habib Badr, attended on behalf of the Council the first ever Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. Department of State in Washington D.C. 23-26 July, 2018. This event welcomed hundreds of civil society organisations, religious leaders, government officials and elected leaders to the U.S. capital for dialogue on the state of religious freedom in the world and how to collectively work towards greater implementation globally of this key human right.
Invitees attended plenary and breakout sessions on various topics, such as the intersections of women’s rights and right to freedom of religion, stories from survivors of religious persecution, prevention and accountability in cases of genocide, and the links between religious freedom and economic prosperity.
Rev. Badr also met privately on the sidelines of the event with the U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback. They discussed the rich history and heritage of Christianity and the Christian Community in the Middle East and Rev. Badr shared a statement in which he urged the U.S. to work diligently in partnership with regional actors to:
— Establish a just and permanent peace in the Middle East, in particular to to bring an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; and to halt the violent and internal conflict and horrible displacement of people in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
— Contribute effectively towards political stability and sustainable socio-economic development of Middle Eastern countries.
— Support educational and diaconial institutions and efforts of moderate and reasonable Middle Eastern Christians, Muslims and Jews which aim at peace-building and human development.
Rev. Badr emphasized that freedom — religious, political or otherwise — cannot be imposed from the outside nor forced on peoples or individuals; that it is realized through the conviction of its sacred necessity for an abundant life, through education and through sacrifice.
The event concluded with the release of two documents — the Potomac Declaration and the Potomac Plan of Action — which detail the outcomes of the Ministerial and recommendations for state and non-state actors moving forward in order to support religious freedom for all people.