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C. L. Gingrich: Address to World Summit 2022, Session VI

Address to World Summit
February 11-13, 2022


Good afternoon. It’s an honor and a pleasure to be with you. I’d like to thank Dr. Moon, H.E. Samdech Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and H.E. Ban Ki-moon, former Secretary General of the United Nations, for the opportunity to be here today. I would also like to thank the Universal Peace Federation and The Washington Times for sponsoring this World Summit.

This Summit comes at a critical time. Today, more than 80% of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is highly or severely restricted. For millions of people, repression, violence, and discrimination are part of daily life as governments and hostile regimes prevent people from living in accordance with their faith. Since 2001, the US Secretary of State has designated North Korea as a country of particular concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. This designation by the US government is reserved for the most severe violators of religious freedom.

For decades, the North Korean government has denied the Korean people their fundamental right to worship freely through fear, intimidation, and retribution. The Kim regime has repressed freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. Those who practice their faith are subject to execution, torture, physical abuse, or arrest. Some organizations estimate that at least 50,000 to 70,000 Christians are in prison for exercising their religious beliefs in North Korea.

Although the North Korean government is one of the world’s worst violators of religious freedom, it is not the only perpetrator of such hostility. At present the Chinese Communist Party is committing genocide against Muslim Uighurs and other ethnic and religious minorities in Western China. Nearly 2 million Uighurs have been imprisoned in re-education camps where they are subject to torture, forced labor, and abuse. Additionally, Christians, who make up China’s largest religious minority, have been persecuted for their faith. Thousands of Christian churches in China have been shuttered, worshippers have been arrested, and images of religious figures have been replaced with pictures of General Secretary Xi Jinping.

West of China and North Korea, in occupied regions of eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia uses religious persecution to project power. Specifically, in Crimea, occupation authorities enforce Russian Federation laws that restrict religious freedom, using force, repressive laws, criminal charges, and planted evidence. The regime detains those who practice their faith and dare to remind Russia that Crimea is part of Ukraine.

Kim Jong-un, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin have at least one thing in common. They fear faith and freedom because they threaten their authority and control. Although these examples represent just a portion of religious persecution and repression today, we must not hesitate to speak out against these and other horrific atrocities. Let me be clear. An attack on religious freedom anywhere is an affront to religious freedom everywhere.

Upholding the right to religious freedom is not only a moral necessity but also a national security imperative. Religious freedom is a key building block of peace and security. This fundamental human right is a bulwark against the forces of extremism and tyranny and provides the foundation upon which societies can thrive. History has shown that governments and societies that champion religious freedom are safer, more prosperous, and more secure. It is in the interest of every nation, organization, and individual to uphold and defend religious freedom.

In the United States, the right to worship freely is often called America’s first freedom. It is a necessary component of U.S. foreign policy and our commitment to ensuring a more peaceful world. While serving as the US ambassador to the Holy See, I witnessed the important role that our partnership with the Vatican plays in protecting religious freedom worldwide.

For nearly 40 years, the United States and the Holy See have been indispensable partners in safeguarding this basic human right. When President Ronald Reagan and St. John Paul II established official diplomatic relations in 1984, they understood that together the United States and the Holy See would be a worldwide force for good. As President Reagan said, this partnership would exist to the benefit of peace-loving people everywhere. And for nearly 40 years, it has done just that.

Protecting religious freedom is at the heart of America’s relationship with the Holy See. Through interfaith dialogue and the work of faith-based organizations, the US and the Holy See have been at the forefront of advancing and defending religious freedom worldwide. Our shared commitment to protecting this fundamental human right comes from knowing that religious freedom is a prerequisite for peace. All of us, across governments, civil society, and faith-based organizations must work together to build bridges that facilitate tolerance and understanding. In bringing together individuals and organizations to advance peace, freedom, and cooperation, this World Summit is fostering a global community that celebrates the inherent dignity of every human being.

As America’s founders understood nearly 250 years ago, our freedom does not come from the government, but from God. A more peaceful and secure world begins with the protection of religious freedom and is strengthened by our shared conviction as we gather here today. By working together and traversing borders and beliefs, we can defeat the forces of religious persecution and defend religious freedom around the world.

Thank you.



To go to the World Summit 2022 Schedule page, click here.