United States: Senator Clinton Promotes Religious Freedom Issues at IRLA Event

News April 2005


Senator Clinton at the IRLA dinner

April 8, 2005. Washington, District of Columbia, United States .... [Mark A. Kellner/ANN/IRLA]

"Religious liberty is one of the most important issues on the world's agenda today," said United States Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who made the case for both freedom of religion and the right not to choose one, at a dinner sponsored by the International Religious Liberty Association, "Liberty" magazine and the North American Religious Liberty Association.

"Those of us who are people of faith are so aware of what that means in our lives that it is sometimes a challenge for us to understand our obligations to make space for nonbelievers," Sen. Clinton, who was elected to a six-year Senate term in 2000, said to an audience of more than 200. This is the third annual religious liberty dinner sponsored by the IRLA and Liberty magazine; all three have been held in the historic Senate Caucus Room on Capitol Hill.

Sen. Clinton lauded the involvement of the church, its 100-year-old "Liberty" magazine, and the International Religious Liberty Association, organized in 1893. IRLA has among its board members representatives of many different faith communities.

This was the first personal appearance by Sen. Clinton at the dinner. Previous speakers at the event included Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey.

James Standish, executive director of the North American Religious Liberty Association, praised Sen. Clinton for her steadfast support of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act. The WRFA is designed to protect the rights of people of faith in the workplace.

Standish also commended Sen. Clinton for promoting religious freedom abroad and at home, the latter as a co-sponsor of the Workplace Religious Freedom Act, or WRFA, reintroduced last month by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, a 2004 U.S. presidential candidate, and Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

"I hope that this ... will be the year that we will be successful in passing this," Sen. Clinton told the audience which included diplomats from over 30 nations, representatives from the White House, the U.S. Department of Justice, 11 representatives from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, along with representatives of other faiths, including Islamic, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant groups.

Sen. Clinton also commented on the late Pope John Paul II, whom she said recognized the importance of religious freedom throughout the world.

She also praised moves toward democracy in both Iraq and Afghanistan and said religious freedom must be a part of the new Iraq: "We must support their efforts to create a democratic government that does protect religious freedom as they attempt to fashion a constitution and a system of government that provides for their beliefs and their tenets of faith, but does so in a context of respect for others," Sen. Clinton said.

"It runs against their traditions in many instances, and they will have to be very statesmanlike in order to create new space for diversity, for pluralism, for tolerance. And we must help them accomplish that," she added.

The dinner also featured awards to several people who have helped in the struggle for religious freedom.

Source: Adventist News Network