SANTA ANA, Calif. (May 22, 2012) – Sixteen members of Congress have joined the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Caucus in the past several weeks, partially due to the advocacy efforts of Open Doors USA.
The International Religious Freedom Caucus seeks to keep members of Congress informed about religious freedom issues and in contact with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in the field. The caucus was founded in 2006 and is co-chaired by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC). In recent weeks, Open Doors USA has done extensive outreach to Congressional offices urging them to join the caucus.
The new members of the caucus include: Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), Mike Capuano (D-MA), Randy Hultgren (R-IL), Mike Pence (R-IN), Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Scott Rigell (R-VA), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) Ted Poe (R-TX), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Tom Marino (R-PA),Trey Gowdy (R-SC), John Olver (D-MA) and James Lankford (R-OK). There are now 66 members of the IRF Caucus.
“We commend the new House members of the International Religious Freedom Caucus and thank them for their desire to promote international religious freedom,” says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. “We encourage the remaining members of Congress to join this important caucus and stand with those who do not have freedom of religion.”
According to the IRF website, the group’s initiative is a bipartisan monthly meeting which facilitates networking between non-profit advocacy groups and policymakers, and lectures on domestic and international religious freedom issues. In addition, the caucus sponsors Religious Freedom Day on Capitol Hill. Membership in the IRF caucus will be a benchmark on the next Open Doors Scorecard report, which rates members of Congress on their support of international religious freedom.
Open Doors USA launched the Scorecard in 2010. Open Doors’ objective is to provide an educational tool so American voters can be aware of how active their elected officials are in supporting international religious freedom. The Scorecard also assists members of Congress in staying apprised of the most important bills and resolutions they can support in order to protect and promote religious freedom worldwide.
“I am delighted that 16 members of Congress have joined the IRF Caucus in just the last several weeks,” says Open Doors USA Advocacy Director Lindsay Vessey. “Open Doors USA commends these members and existing members for their commitment to the protection of religious freedom for people of any or no faith. As the IRF Caucus is focusing on becoming bi-cameral, we particularly urge U.S. Senators to consider joining their House colleagues in this important effort.”
For more information on the IRF Caucus and the advocacy efforts of Open Doors USA, please visit http://advocacy.opendoorsusa.organd http://www.facebook.com/internationalreligiousfreedomcaucus.
Nearly 70 percent of the world’s 6.8 billion people live in countries with little or no freedom of religion. Open Doors is an organization that for over five decades has come alongside Christians in 60 of these restrictive, dangerous countries, campaigning for the freedom to believe from the gulags in North Korea to the halls of Congress. Open Doors’ outreach to more than 100 million persecuted believers includes delivery of Bibles and other materials, training of indigenous leaders in the Word, Christian community development, prayer and advocacy. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.