In remarks coinciding with the release of the 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, Kerry said religious freedom is "ingrained in every human heart" and recognized under international law.
"Attacks on religious freedom are therefore both a moral and a strategic national security concern for the United States," he said.
The report on religious freedom in some 200 countries and territories was released by the State Department Monday. An executive summary highlighted governments that restrict their citizens' ability to practice religion.
Among those mentioned were China, North Korea, Vietnam, Burma, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Sudan and Eritrea.
"The right to religious freedom is inherent in every human being. Unfortunately, this right was challenged in myriad ways in 2012," the report said.
The report noted anti-Muslim rhetoric and actions were on the rise, particularly in Europe and Asia.