Religious leaders and activists from a variety of faiths called for tolerance of one another and said the U.S. government should step up efforts to fight faith-based discrimination and persecution around the world.

“Everyone should have the right to believe or not believe,” said Suzan Johnson Cook, who was confirmed this year as the State Department’s ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. “That is their God-given right.”

Several speakers at the daylong conference “Stop Religious Persecution Now,” held at The Washington Times, spoke in favor of a bill before Congress proposed by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, that would boost the State Department’s role as an advocate for religious freedom abroad.

Provisions of the bill would give U.S. Foreign Service officers new training on promoting religious freedom, shine a brighter spotlight on countries identified as restricting religious liberties and reauthorize the independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

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