Under Secretary Maria Otero for for Democracy and Global Affairs today stressed that organized religion supports and sustains civil society around the world.
In her remarks to the “Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group”, Ms. Otero stated that eighty-five percent of people worldwide participate in a faith tradition.
“Today’s event is part of a larger effort by Secretary Clinton to reach out to civil society. We come together – U.S. government officials and a diverse group of religious leaders, academics, and leaders from faith-based and secular nongovernmental organizations – for a focused dialogue on how the U.S. Government – along with domestic and international NGOs – can work together at the crossroads of religious engagement and conflict, democracy and humanitarian needs.” -Ms. Otero
She noted that there is no question that faith is hard, and walls are not easy to bring down. She said religion can be as dangerous as it is powerful when carried with zeal and fervor.
“We see every day how religion is used by human rights advocates and terrorists alike to defend their actions.” -Ms. Otero
She emphasized that faith groups run many of the world’s schools and health care facilities. Major development and charitable groups are run by religious organizations or are founded upon a religious commitment to compassion.
“Indeed, the activities of these groups are a crucial thread in the economic and political fabric of society. So, we need to engage with religious communities in order to have a holistic understanding of the factors at play in any given country.” -Ms. Otero
She highlighted that under the Obama Administration, they have seen a shift in dialogue towards mutuality and partnership with religious communities. They have challenged discrimination and intolerance, and fought to protect religious freedom, both at home and abroad.
“The U.S. government has condemned acts of religious intolerance – whether they are against Copts in Egypt, Buddhists in Tibet, or Muslims in Dearborn, Michigan. And we look forward to working with all of you to tackle pressing challenges in your own communities and globally.” -Ms. Otero