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Take Action with Your Senators to Reauthorize Religious Freedom Commission

August 20, 2015 by Kristin Wright in ,

At Open Doors USA, we are always exploring ways for our supporters to make a difference for persecuted believers around the world. We are currently working alongside other organizations to seek reauthorization of the United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).  The Commission plays a vital role in defending religious freedom around the world. The current authorization for the Commission is set to expire on September 30, 2015. You can support reauthorization of USCIRF for the next six years by contacting your U.S. Senators.


What is USCIRF?

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan, federal government commission. The first of its kind in the world, it is dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief. The Commission, created in 1998 by an act of Congress, raises and addresses the cases of individuals around the world who face discrimination, harassment, and severe persecution for their faith.  USCIRF publishes an Annual Report which makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.

Two Bills in the Senate

There are currently two bills in the Senate that address USCIRF reauthorization. Open Doors, along with several other like-minded organizations, is supporting S.1798 – United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2015. We believe that the provisions in
S.1798 will more effectively advance freedom of religion and belief than a second bill that was also introduced last month (S.1860). Many believe that some of the provisions in the alternate bill are controversial and could comprise the integrity of the commission.  There is a concern that these provisions could undermine bi-partisan support for reauthorization.  S.1798 will reauthorize USCIRF for six years, the alternate bill will only reauthorize it for two years.

Contact your Senators to Advocate for S.1798

We encourage you to contact your U.S. senators via their websites, and encourage them to co-sponsor and vote for S.1798 in order to reauthorize USCIRF. Here is some sample language to use in your message:

Dear Senator _____,

I am writing regarding the reauthorization of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Since 1998, USCIRF has played a vital role in elevating the promotion of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy. The Commission is set to expire on September 30, 2015 unless it is reauthorized by Congress. As you may know, there are currently two bills in the Senate that are addressing USCIRF reauthorization. I encourage you to co-sponsor and vote for S.1798. I believe that S.1798 is better suited to advance freedom of religion and belief than the alternate bill (S.1860). I am concerned that some of the provisions in the second bill could threaten bi-partisan support for reauthorization. 

Please cosponsor and vote for S.1798 so that the essential role of USCIRF will continue, without interruption, at this critical time.

Sincerely,
(Your Name)

Thank you for advocating on behalf of persecuted Christians on this important issue!

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