International Religious Freedom Summit ‘Congressional Advocacy Week’ to petition Congress to protect religious freedom

Jul. 6, 2021

WASHINGTON — Ahead of the International Religious Freedom Summit 2021, “Congressional Advocacy Week” will be hosted in Washington, D.C., from Tuesday, July 6 through Tuesday, July 13. All organizations participating in the Summit are invited to schedule appointments on Capitol Hill to advocate for their respective causes.

“For nearly a quarter of a century since the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act, the U.S. Government has defended international religious freedom for everyone and everywhere through impactful policies and reports. There’s arguably no more powerful movement in America today that attracts communities from diverse walks of life and backgrounds than the movement to combat religious repression,” said Amjad Mahmood Khan, an Ahmadi Muslim lawyer and law professor who’s leading Congressional advocacy for the 2021 International Religious Summit. “As part of our inaugural Summit, we plan to harness the collective passion and skills of persecuted communities to send a unifying message to our leaders and lawmakers: when any one persecuted community suffers, we all suffer.”

Organizations scheduling meetings with members of Congress are urged to:

  • Highlight the IRF Summit 2021 and its objectives.
  • Encourage the Biden administration to put forth a nominee for the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
  • Encourage members of Congress and their staff to attend the “In Solidarity with the Persecuted” event on Tuesday, July 13.
  • Encourage members of Congress to join the International Religious Freedom Caucus.
  • Highlight the plight of religious prisoners of conscience (POC) worldwide and raise the case or cases of the POC or POCs for whom their organization is advocating, seeking the Member of Congress’s advocacy on their behalf. If an organization has not yet selected a prisoner for whom to advocate, information about specific prisoners can be found on the Defending Freedoms Project site of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission or the Religious Prisoners of Conscience site of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

Meetings during “Congressional Advocacy Week” may be held either in-person or virtually. In-person meetings will take place on Tuesday, July 13 and a special kickoff breakfast will be held at 8 a.m. at the Belmont House across from Capitol Hill (314 Independence Avenue, SE).

Additionally on Tuesday, July 13, the “In Solidarity with the Persecuted” event will be held at 5 p.m. at the Rayburn Foyer, marking the culmination of “Congressional Advocacy Week” as well as the start of the Summit.

The program will feature brief testimonials from international religious freedom community leaders speaking on behalf of other persecuted faith groups, demonstrating solidarity and a unified theme of the importance of international religious freedom for all. The event will include remarks by co-Chairs Katrina Lantos Swett and Samuel Brownback, with support from U.S. Senator James Lankford, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, U.S. Rep. Chris Smith and U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, the  Congressional co-Chairs of the IRF Summit.

The Summit is supported by more than 70 diverse partners around the world and aims to bring greater attention to religious freedom violations and to create a powerful coalition of groups to advance the cause of religious freedom around the world.

More information on Congressional Advocacy Week is available here.

More information on the International Religious Freedom Summit 2021 is available here.

The full schedule of events for the Summit is available here.

Press credentials should be requested by emailing


International Religious Freedom Summit 2021 is convening a powerful, diverse coalition of religious and civil society groups to advocate for religious freedom for all people, everywhere at all times. The 2021 Summit will be July 13-15 in Washington, D.C.

Samuel Brownback served as the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom from 2018 to 2021. He is co-chair of the IRF Summit 2021.

Katrina Lantos Swett is president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice and former chair and vice-chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). She is co-chair of the IRF Summit 2021.