At a special plenary of Peace Summit 2023, an international peace conference drawing former heads of state and leading political and religious leaders from around the world, held in Seoul 3rd May 2023, several of the distinguished speakers voiced their concern about severe attacks on religious freedom in Japan in the wake of the assassination of former prime minister Shinzo Abe last July.
Newt Gingrich, author and senior American politician who served as the 50th speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999, noted,
“I am very concerned about the assault on religious liberty in Japan. We are watching a process that frankly amazes me, in which a 40-year campaign by the Communist Party of Japan against the church, a campaign by lawyers to get rich at the expense of the church, and now a news media that has aligned itself with the hard left, are all leading to the potential of the Prime Minister literally violating the constitution of Japan.
Religious liberty is at the core of all liberties. If you can’t worship God in your own way, if you don’t live in a country which respects and preserves your rights, then what freedom do you have?
America, as you know, is very far from being perfect, and we remind ourselves of this every morning, as we argue loudly among ourselves. But you can be of any religious background in America and win an elected office. You can be of any religious background in America and be appointed to be a judge. You have an opportunity to advance in a way that respects your right to approach God.
And my only hope […] is that here I can appeal to the Japanese government to decide that protecting religious liberty and protecting the rights of individuals is central to our future.”
Mike Pompeo, American Secretary of State 2018-2021, said,
“We should not ever lose sight of the mountaintop. We should never lose sight of the objective of peace, so that every human can live with the basic dignity that God created and imbued in each and every one of us. We know that this hope comes from him, from something that’s bigger than any of us individually, any of the nations we had the privilege to serve and represent. It comes from this greater idea that man is indeed imbued with these central understandings, these unalienable rights as our founders described them, and we should always do our best to protect and preserve them.
When I was Secretary of State – it now seems like a long time ago – we put religious freedom at the top of the stack of things that we knew mattered to the world. Our representative to the Vatican, our representatives all across the world understood that if we put religious freedom at the top of the list of things that we were working to deliver all across the world, – and if we make sure that we got it right in our own country at home – that the chances that we would have a chance to reach that summit, to actually climb that mountain, would increase dramatically.
We saw this in small ways. I will never forget the time that I was in Uzbekistan. I had the chance to meet with families of Uyghurs. These were Muslims whose families had members being held in western China.
And what for all the world look like internment camps that the world had not seen since the 1930s, the United States was able to take the small but important step of making clear that erasing these people, this ethnicity, these believers, from the world was genocide. And it was unacceptable. […]
We need to promote the love that Mother Moon knows, the faith that Mother Moon knows. Religious freedom is under assault in many places. We watch in our own country as believers are called extremists. Speaker Gingrich spoke to the fact that in Japan today, religion is under assault under the guise of a leftist ideology. We, those of us who are here today, can never forget the centrality of the belief to simply love your family, help your neighbors, work alongside those who believe in your faith and help those who have no faith see that only through Him can the peace and prosperity of the world ultimately be achieved.
We sometimes look at the challenges across the world. We see the conflicts and it is easy to get down. It is easy to see some countries, some leaders, denying that very religious freedom to their own people and foisting that absence of faith across the world. But know this, I had these privileged 1000 days to serve as America’s most senior diplomat. I saw that […] the work of Mother Moon matters. We should not lose hope. We should not stop the climb. We will reach the summit, and God will be with us.”
The Peace Summit 2023 is organized by the Universal Peace Federation from 2nd to 6th May in Seoul. The opening banquet and special plenary were held at the Lotte Hotel on 3rd May.
Featured image above: Newt Gingrich addressing Peace Summit 2023 at Lotte Hotel, Seoul 3rd May 2023. Photo: Screenshot from live transmission via PeaceLink TV.