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October 11, 2017

Testimony of Robert G. Berschinski

Chairman DeSantis, Ranking Member Lynch, and members of the subcommittee, thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify today regarding the U.S. government’s important role in protecting international religious freedom.

The right of each of us to believe and worship as our conscience dictates is enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of religion—to believe or not believe, to change one’s beliefs, and to practice one’s faith in private or in observance with others—is the essence of what makes us human.

During my time in the Obama administration, I was privileged to work closely with then Ambassador-at-Large David Saperstein, as well as the many dedicated staff of the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom. These men and women embody the professionalism and nonpartisanship so integral to the successful advancement of U.S. foreign policy.

Today, I work at an organization, Human Rights First, whose mission is to foster American global leadership on human rights not just as a moral obligation, but also as a vital national interest. Our belief is that the United States is strongest, most secure, and most prosperous when our policies and actions match our ideals.

I bring this perspective to today’s hearing, and hope that it will inform discussion this morning in at least three ways. 

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