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USCIRF Statement on Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th Birth Anniversary

October 2, 2019

On October 2, the world will commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. In honor of Gandhi’s life and principles, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Commissioners Tony Perkins (Chair) and Anurima Bhargava issued the following statement:

“We join with countless Indians and many others across the world in celebrating the life of Mahatma Gandhi, a dedicated champion of nonviolence and religious tolerance, including religious freedom for all. Through his example of embracing the fundamental human right of religious freedom, he fostered an environment of religious freedom and diversity.  Gandhi’s 150th birthday is an opportunity to reflect upon these timeless and universal principles,” said Perkins.

Mahatma Gandhi changed the course of world history.  He led millions to the path of truth and justice centered in the principle of nonviolence and the dignity and humanity of people of every religion or belief.  He taught us that we must not treat children of other religious backgrounds as the other or different; instead, we must adopt them as our own.  He reminded us that ‘Cultivation of tolerance for other faiths will impart to us a truer understanding of our own.’ As we commemorate Gandhi’s 150th birthday, we must recommit to Gandhian principles in India and in many societies where religious minorities are currently being expelled rather than embraced,” said Bhargava.

Mohandas Gandhi, known as the Mahatma (Great Soul), was born October 2, 1869 in Porbandar, Gujarat. He served as the moral and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, a powerful advocate for nonviolent resistance, and a champion of religious understanding and tolerance. He once wrote, “I do not expect India to develop one religion, i.e., to be wholly Hindu, or wholly Christian, or wholly [Muslim], but I want it to be wholly tolerant, with its religions working side by side with one another.” His unfortunate assassination on January 30, 1948, reminds us all to strive more for interreligious understanding and tolerance across globe.



The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at kboyle@uscirf.gov or +1-703-898-6554.