Sam Brownback, the U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom, detailed Thursday the ambitions of a new $25 million campaign to protect and restore holy sites and places of worship across the world.
Brownback, head of the State Department’s International Religious Freedom Office, testified before the congressionally mandated U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom where he shared the vision for the new campaign announced by President Donald Trump last month at the United Nations.
Trump made the announcement during an event he hosted at the U.N. headquarters in New York City on Sept. 23, becoming the first president ever to convene a meeting at the U.N. solely on the topic of religious freedom.
During the USCIRF hearing held in the Dirksen Building, Brownback, a former Kansas governor and U.S. senator, said the allocation of $25 million to help protect vulnerable places of worship and holy sites worldwide is “the first time that this has been tried in this way.”
It comes at a time in which attacks on places of worship seem to be occurring with greater frequency as evidenced by attacks in Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Germany, California and Pennsylvania within the last 12 months, in addition to constant attacks on churches and mosques in the Middle East and Asia.
“These new funds will be used to prevent the intentional destruction of religious sites and relics,” Brownback said. “And we’re hopeful we can contribute to the meaningful restoration of key cultural heritage sites and places of worship around the world.”
Brownback said the new campaign has been piloted in a way by a number of U.S. ambassadors through The U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation. The fund was launched in 2001 to help preserve cultural heritage sites.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith