Congress Passes ‘International Religious Freedom Act’ to Combat Persecution Worldwide

WASHINGTON — Congress passed a bill this week that aims to give the White House and State Department improved tools to address religious persecution worldwide.

The Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act had been introduced in the House last year by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., and then in the Senate this year by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. The bi-partisan-backed bill first passed the House in May and then came before the Senate this month, where it passed unanimously.

It is named after former Congressman Frank Wolf, who first helmed the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, and is stated to expand upon his work.

“America was founded in part by people fleeing religious persecution, and the U.S. has a moral responsibility to be a champion for oppressed people around the world,” Rubio said on Tuesday following the passage of the measure. “When it comes to universal human rights that must be respected, few are more fundamental to the human spirit than the freedom to live out your faith according to your conscience, without fear of persecution, violence or imprisonment.”

“But this right is under assault in every corner of the globe, and we must do more to defend it and counter the vicious attacks on religious minorities,” he stated. “People of faith around the world routinely find themselves in the crosshairs, not only of repressive and authoritarian states, but also of non-state actors like ISIL and Boko Haram.”

“From China and Vietnam to Syria and Nigeria, we are witnessing a tragic, global crisis in religious persecution, violence and terrorism, with dire consequences for religious believers and for U.S. national security,” Smith, chair of the Global Human Rights Subcommittee, also remarked.

The bill requires the government to create a list of those who are detained or imprisoned for their faith, as well as a list of those who commit egregious violations of religious liberty. It also mandates religious freedom training for all foreign service officers, and that the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom report directly to the secretary of state.

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“In order to promote religious freedom as a U.S. foreign policy interest, the ambassador at large for international religious freedom: (1) shall coordinate international religious freedom policies across all U.S. programs and activities, and (2) is urged to participate in any interagency processes in which the promotion of international religious freedom policy can advance U.S. national security interests,” a summary of H.R. 1150 reads in part.

The measure likewise requires the president to publish in the federal register “any designation of a non-state actor as an entity of particular concern for religious freedom, and the identities of individuals responsible for severe violations of religious freedom by non-state actors.”

The bill has now been sent to the desk of Barack Obama, who has not yet indicated whether or not he will sign the legislation.

“Wherever assaults on religious freedom occur, America has a moral responsibility to speak up and to act,” Rubio said.

As previously reported, just last month, Christians in over 100 countries observed the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church by joining together to intercede for those who daily suffer for their faith in Jesus Christ.

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  • Grace Kim Kwon

    Global children need protection from the Western perversion as well. Christianity alone can protect children and any serious people from harms. All other ideologies are abusive including the Western secularism. All pagans massively violate human rights while Western secularism corrupts mankind starting from children. The West needs Christianity to get saved and carry out moral responsibility.

    • Joshua Krug

      It needs to be settled in the minds of mankind that there is no other God but the LORD God of Israel, and among all peoples that Jesus Christ is Lord.

      • Saunders61

        That’s all good, but it’s the same type claim made by followers of the >20,000 gods created during human history. Time to move past the “My god is better then your god” mentality.

        • Joshua Krug

          What a contrary point of view. How can you facilitate? First you say what I am saying is good. Then you say it is a false claim. I will never yield to you in matters of faith in God. Nor allow a man as yourself to suppress the truth of my claim.

        • Grace Kim Kwon

          The God of Israel is the one true living God. There is no other. ( Isaiah 45) The Westerners who claim polytheism this century do that only to continue their abnormal immorality on earth; equality among mankind is their least concern because equality cannot exist apart from the Judeo-Christian monotheism. Equality and freedom is only found with the truth and from the Holy Bible, no where else. (John 8) Mankind never even knew that all human beings are equal under God until they were educated by the Gospels and the Pauline epistles in the Holy Bible.

      • Grace Kim Kwon

        Yes, amen. That’s why the Church evangelizes and teaches everyone on earth. For people’s salvation and protection of the defenseless. Both paganism and secularism heavily exploit the defenseless with oppressions and barbarisms or immorality. Christians must pray and fight every way possible to protect the truth. Freedom was established by the Western civilization for people to live out the Judeo-Christian values, the only lawful and civilized life, not to be forced abnormal immorality or carry out suicide like in today’s West and its servant nations.

      • TwoRutRoad

        Other religions say the same thing about THEIR god. Did you pick the correct one? Your odds are not good. Chew on that for awhile.

        • Joshua Krug

          I didn’t pick at all.

  • Saunders61

    I hope the same protection will be afforded Muslims, Wiccans, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Pastafarians…etc.

  • tatoo

    You mean that Muslim children will also be protected?

  • This sounds great, but it would be nice if there were a law like this for religious persecution inside America. There are entire organizations dedicated to performing religious persecutions and ruinous harassment who operate under color of law and congress is doing nothing, even though they are supposed to be WRITING the law, instead of ceding their powers to judges and unelected bureaucrats.

    • Saunders61

      Ceding is also known as separation of powers, right there in the Constitution. What is it about Christians needing to feel persecuted? Just because disagrees with you, doesn’t mean you are being persecuted.

      • Joshua Krug

        That kind of ceding comes from the people, not from authorities above. The Authority above has endowed men with unalienable rights, all of them, to pursue liberty and justice. When the executive gives orders, he remains in place, as do the rest of the ranks. What we need is ears to hear, and we call out to those who likewise are living in the world, and still very much a part of it.

      • johndoe

        That’s gays you’re describing.

  • Steve Buckley

    This is great.
    Now. I have one question— what’s in it to ensure that it actually gets enforced?

  • The Skeptical Chymist

    This bill also explicitly calls for nontheists to be protected, and for their freedom of conscience to be respected. It is a good bill, and I hope President Obama signs it.

    • Neal D

      If your type likes it, it must be really bad.

  • Robert

    why is their not a posistion to watch for anti christian activities in the U.S. government .There is one to watch out for anti semetic activities.

  • TwoRutRoad

    Aren’t assaults on religious freedom usually done by another religion, in the name of their religion? Who’s religious freedom gets preference?