“[T]he work of protecting religious freedom, for people of all faiths and none, is never finished. . . . We must be vigilant against the rising tide of targeted violence and hate at home and abroad, and work to ensure that no one feels afraid to attend a religious service, school, or community center, or walk down the street wearing the symbols of their faith. My administration will guard these cherished principles, working shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans of all beliefs to preserve our nation’s founding promise as an enduring citadel of diversity, unity, and mutual respect.”
— President Joseph R. Biden
The Biden Administration is wholly committed to promoting universal respect for freedom of religion or belief for all people around the world. Religious freedom is enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is both a core American value and a human right. The ability to organize one’s life in accordance with one’s conscience allows one to enjoy the full constellation of human rights. But religious freedom cannot exist without defending the co-equal and interrelated freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and can only thrive in democratic systems governed by the rule of law.
This Annual Report provides a detailed and factual account of the status of religious freedom in 200 countries and territories, and documents reports of violations and abuses committed by governments, non-state actors, and individuals. The release of this report gives voice to all those worldwide seeking to peacefully exercise their beliefs without fear or recrimination.
Across the globe, in far too many places, individuals continue to be killed, tortured, jailed, harassed, and threatened on account of their religious identity or beliefs. Left unaddressed, such abuses threaten societal cohesion and political stability, undermine economic development, and can foster radicalization and violent extremism. While promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief is a clear manifestation of American values, it is also a national security imperative. Governments that effectively safeguard religious freedom are more stable, more economically vibrant, and more peaceful.
As such, the United States resolves to continue the vital work of promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief for all people, everywhere.
I hereby transmit the Department of State’s 2020 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom to the United States Congress. I appreciate the longstanding Congressional support on freedom of religion or belief and look forward to working with Congress to preserve and protect this human right.
Secretary of State
Antony J. Blinken