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February 16, 2014, 9:23 PM

What is America doing to stand against Christian persecution?

There was  a congressional hearing on Feb 11, this year, concerning Christian persecution.  The hearing was chaired by U.S. Rep, Chris Smith, R-NJ. The House subcommittee on global human rights listened to international experts testify about the rise in Christian persecution throughout the world.  The Vatican's apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt, to the United Nations was one who testified. He told about how Christians in Iraq are being caught in the crossfire of the conflict there. He denounced the emerging tradition of bombing Catholic and other Christian churches on Christmas Eve. He told how devastating the persecution is toward children and quoted the Pew Forum that found Christians suffered some form of harassment in 139 countries between 2006 and 2010, the largest of any other group. John Allen, associate editor of The Boston Globe, stated, when Western governments such as the United States defend persecuted Christians internationally, their voice carries weight. Elliott Abrams of the U.S. Commission on international Religious Freedom, said  the U.S. government needs to say that "we care, and this will affect our relations".  He also stated that the U.S. should enforce economic and trade sanctions against countries that persecute religious minorities.

In March of 2013, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo) reintroduced the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act(S. 653).  This bill would establish an envoy to promote the right of religious freedom of religious minorities  in the Near East and South Central Asia and report the current status of religious freedom in each country of those regions. It also calls for the envoy to "denounce the violation of such right and recommend appropriate responses by the United States government when such right is violated." 

As reported by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on December 18, 2013

S. 653 would authorize the appropriation of $1 million each year over the 2013-2017 period for the President to appoint a Special Envoy within the Department of State.

With a million dollars to get the envoy appointed, seems like it should be done promptly.

This bill closely aligns with the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 as well as the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reform and Reauthorization Act (P.L. 112-75), passed in the House in 2011.  The bill  also passed in the Senate and was signed into law by President Obama. The ambassadorship is the key position in the United States on religious freedom, and the seat has been vacant since last October. A continued vacancy in this position surely sends a message of apathy toward persecuted Christians across the world.

It seems, we have no lack of legislation to protect Christians from persecution, but where is the enforcement or even the appointment of positions to cause the legislation to have some influence in helping  protect our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ?


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