Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, joined with committee members Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), this week to send a letter to the Honorable Sam Brownback, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, expressing their belief that the promotion of religious freedom should continue to be a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy. In specifics, the senators raise the challenges that Tibetan Buddhism faces under Chinese rule.
“Action by any government, including the Chinese government, to intervene or select the next Dalai Lama would undermine the legitimacy of a revered Tibetan Buddhist institution and deprive millions of Buddhist practitioners worldwide, including those in the United States, their legitimate spiritual leader and teacher. The United States has a direct interest in protecting the right of Buddhists to religious freedom, and to ensure their religious institutions, like those of all religions, are not undermined and able to operate freely,” the members said in the letter.
The letter asks Ambassador Brownback to share his views on how the U.S. can best support Tibetan Buddhists, to include collaboration with the international community to uphold religious freedom, and to convey that religious traditions should not be subject to government encroachment.
Full text of the letter can be found here.