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People pray outside a Legio Maria African Mission Church in Loiyangalani, Kenya, on August 5, 2017.

Faith leaders want Congress to tackle religious persecution

More than 100 religious freedom advocates are encouraging the U.S. Senate to pass bipartisan resolution SR-569, which would integrate religious freedom into U.S. foreign policy and address worldwide violations of faith.

The effort aims to protect freedoms for all religions, from Christians facing what’s been called genocide in  sub-Saharan Africa, to ethinic Muslims currently being held in Chinese concentration camps. It also targets Iran and Russia–which is destroying both Orthodox and Evangelical churches in the Ukrainian territory it occupies.

A world map of persecution of Christians shows the greatest threat in North Africa and Asia.

“We have seen firsthand the increasing threats to religious freedom around the world described in the resolution,” the groups wrote in a letter to Congress, “From ongoing genocides and mass atrocities perpetrated against religious minority groups, to individuals imprisoned and exiled for their faith and beliefs, from unjust restrictions on religious gatherings and practices, to the destruction of religious sites, these threats against both people of faith and no faith are not only grave violations of fundamental human rights but also lead to instability, insecurity and a lack of economic development.”

Introduced last month, the resolution seeks to establish religious freedom as a core human right and a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy The resolution proposes using diplomatic and sanctions tools to hold violators accountable. The advocates said the resolution “paints an accurate and disturbing portrayal of the religious freedom situation in too many countries.

“Because of that situation, the resolution’s policy recommendations are vital: promoting religious freedom as an ‘utmost priority’ in U.S. foreign policy, holding violators accountable using all available diplomatic and sanctions tools, working with global partners, and expanding support for leaders and activists working to protect religious freedom worldwide,” the letter said.

Sean Nelson, legal counsel for global religious freedom for ADF International, cited widespread violations against faith communities.

“We are grateful to the members of the U.S. Congress who have proposed this vital legislation, and we are hopeful that U.S. influence on this important matter will encourage much-needed change throughout the world,” he said.

Among other countries, the resolution specifically mentions religious freedom abuses in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Iran and Russia. “No person should be punished or persecuted for their faith,” Nelson said, “and we pray for the day when all can worship and live out their faith freely.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice


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