U.S. Embassy Hosts Jamaican Religious Leaders in Celebration of Religious Freedom Day

Rev. Dr, Margaret Fowler, Minister, United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and Bishop Alvin Bailey, Senior Pastor, Portmore Holiness Church in discussion during religious freedom day.
Rev. Dr, Margaret Fowler, Minister, United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands and Bishop Alvin Bailey, Senior Pastor, Portmore Holiness Church in discussion during Religious Freedom Day.

Kingston, Tuesday January 16thU.S. Embassy’s Chargé d’ Affaires Eric Khant hosted an interfaith dialogue for approximately 10 prominent Jamaican religious leaders at the Chief of Mission’s Residence. During the dialogue the topic of religious pluralism, tolerance and religion’s role in addressing social issues were discussed. The participants included: Rev. Gary Harriott, General Secretary Jamaica Council of Churches; R Sheikh Musa Tijani, Director and Head of Education for the Islamic Council of Jamaica; Ms. Stacey Mitchell, Chairman, National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai’s of Jamaica and Stephen Henriques Director, United Congregation of Israelites.

During the dialogue Chargé Khant applauded the participant’s dedication and support in helping to create a pluralistic religious environment for Jamaicans. He stated, “America stands together with Jamaica and our other international partners in defense of religious freedom, so that people may freely practice, or refrain from practicing, a faith, belief or religion – free from persecution or fear.” Khant also went on to state, “Fostering respect for religious pluralism and diversity of belief is key to reducing discrimination and persecution and will help to ensure all individuals equally enjoy their rights.” Invitees to the dialogue also represented several denominations of Christianity, Rastafarianism, Islam and Hinduism.

Since 1993, the United States has proclaimed January 16 “Religious Freedom Day” to underscore its commitment to uphold and protect religious freedom and diversity; promote accountability for religious-based violence; and support global efforts to legally protect religious minorities and practices.

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