Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is taking a major role in the push for worldwide religious freedom – one that will include a summit this summer bringing together US allies and countries seen as major offenders in hopes of advancing the cause.
"It will not just be a discussion group. It will be about action," Pompeo said Tuesday as he unveiled the State Department's annual report on global religious freedom.
The report highlights problems in countries like Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.
"We look forward to identifying concrete ways to push back against persecution and ensure greater respect for religious freedom for all," Pompeo said.
With that in mind, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback is helping to push through a law that he created when he served as a US Kansas senator. He released his annual "name-and-shame" report on Tuesday.
"We must move religious freedom forward," Brownback urged. "We must defend it from every corner of the globe. That's why the secretary is hosting the first ever ministerial on advancing religious freedom."
But while Brownback believes "naming and shaming" these countries is important, he admits some type of punishment, such as economic or humanitarian sanctions, should follow.
"Until you actually put a consequence out there the bad stuff continues," he warned.
Earlier, in an exclusive interview with CBN News, Brownback said he also wants to convince global policymakers that promoting religious freedom can reduce terrorism and boost the economy.
"There is a direct correlation," he said, noting that a key goal for the summit, slated to take place July 25-26, will be to show how countries hurt themselves by not allowing people to freely worship.
"You have less terrorism if a country is religiously free because people then can express their faith, instead of fighting you. This is in now all the economic and scientific data," Brownback explained.
American Pastor in Turkish Prison
Meanwhile, Brownback told CBN News the US is doing all it can to bring American pastor Andrew Brunson home.
Currently, Brunson remains inside a Turkish prison.
The Turkish government has accused him of being part of a group alleged to have staged the failed 2016 coup attempt in the country.
Brownback is urging Turkey to clear and release Brunson, who has lived in the Muslim-majority country for more than 20 years.