80 percent of the world’s population lives in a country where their government represses religious rights, making advocacy for religious freedom more important than ever, Nadine Maenza, a commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), told Breitbart News in an interview.
“We’ve seen more oppression around the world, it’s increasing, not decreasing,” Maenza said in an interview following an event discussing the relationship between war and religious freedom Committee For Responsible Foreign Policy in Washington, DC, last week. The event corresponded with the U.S. State Department hosting its first-ever ministerial on religious freedom last week, inviting foreign ministers from around the world to discuss how governments can better foster religious diversity and repress violence against religious minorities.
Maenza noted that global trends suggest growing religious persecution, making the Trump administration’s focus on the matter timely. “Four out of five people in the world live in countries that oppress religious freedom and over a third of those people live in a country that extremely represses their religious freedom – so imprisonment, persecution, violence,” she explained.
Maenza cited the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia as particularly difficult places to be a religious minority, or choose not to be a member of a religion at all.
Combatting persecution begins with telling the brutality of the stories of those who survive it, she noted. “So many victims of religious persecution are isolated and they don’t have the ability themselves to share their stories, they don’t have any power,” Maenza told Breitbart News, “so civil society is important so they can share their stories, so they can show Americans what it’s really like.”
To Americans interested in doing more to help promote religious freedom, Maenza advised, “support organizations that support the persecuted, and vote people in office who care about these issues.”