Just last week, a Pakistani Christian couple was burned to death in a brick kiln, targeted because of their faith. In Iraq and Syria, ISIS continues to target Christians and other religious minorities, kidnapping, starving, and even crucifying victims. 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 spreading around the globe. It is clear that religious freedom is more at risk than ever before – yet at this moment a crucial religious freedom commission is approaching expiration. As the year winds to a close, Congress has yet to reauthorize The US Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
What is USCIRF?
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) created in 2011, 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 – the reauthorization of this crucial commission is more important than ever before.
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 for each of us to raise our voices for religious freedom, and speak out for reauthorization of USCIRF.
You can act on this crucial issue by contacting your Senator and asking them to support the passage of the House-passed bill, H.R. 4653, The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Reauthorization Act of 2014.
Then, take a moment to share this article with your friends and encourage them to take action as well.
Together, our efforts are making a difference – and your involvement is a tremendous encouragement to those facing the harsh realities of persecution around the globe.
Kristin Wright serves as the director of advocacy at Open Doors USA. She is a columnist at ChristianHeadlines and a contributing writer at The Huffington Post. Kristin can be reached via her website at bykristinwright.com.
Publication date: November 19, 2014