by Kristin Wright, Director of Advocacy at Open Doors USA
ISIS continues to tear across Iraq and Syria, ruthlessly persecuting Christians and other religious minorities. In Nigeria, more than 200 schoolgirls remain in captivity. Just last week, a Pakistani Christian couple was burned to death in a brick kiln, targeted because of their faith. Earlier this year, Meriam Ibrahim, a Sudanese wife and mother, was imprisoned for her faith and sentenced to death by hanging.
These are only a few of the thousands of examples of horrific violations of religious freedom and human rights spreading around the globe. It is clear that our freedom to believe is more at risk than ever before – yet at this moment the US Congress is dithering on the importance of a crucial religious freedom commission nearing expiration. As the year winds to a close, lawmakers have yet to reauthorize The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Together with many other organizations, Open Doors USA is encouraging the reauthorization of this crucial commission, asking Senators to support the swift passage of the House-passed bill, H.R. 4653, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Reauthorization Act of 2014, as soon as possible.
What is USCIRF?
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) raises and addresses the cases of individuals around the world who face discrimination, harassment and severe persecution for their faith.
On its website, the commission is described as an “independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.” The commission reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations, and ultimately makes policy recommendations based on this information to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
At a time when international religious freedom is more threatened than ever before – think again of ISIS terrorizing religious minorities in Iraq, and radical Islamist groups overtaking churches in Syria, as just two examples of encroachments on religious freedom worldwide – we believe it is vital for USCIRF to be reauthorized.
Without this commission, the US government will not have a specific body dedicated to addressing religious persecution and making crucial recommendations. Without the commission’s recommendations, religious freedom won’t be addressed as frequently or comprehensively in US policy.
Time is running out for the commission and its crucial role in calling the US government to address the growing impact of persecution around the world. That’s why it’s so important to take action today.
You can act on this crucial issue by contacting your Senator and asking them to support the swift passage of the House-passed bill, H.R. 4653, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Reauthorization Act of 2014, as soon as possible.
Then, take a moment to share this post with your friends and encourage them to take action as well.
Thank you for being a voice for those who are persecuted around the world. Your efforts are making a difference – and your involvement is an encouragement to those facing the harsh realities of persecution around the globe.