‘Religious Persecution Is Festering Around the World’

New legislation would offer emergency relief funds to victims of genocide and war crimes in Iraq, Syria

by Leah Jessen | Updated 17 Jun 2017 at 9:53 AM

The ability to practice our faith freely, without repercussions in any way, is part of what makes America great. Yet around the globe, many of the faithful face persecution on a regular basis for expressing their religious beliefs.

“We cannot rest, we cannot be content, we certainly can’t be complacent knowing our sisters and brothers are being oppressed, imprisoned, and killed,” said Roman Catholic Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., in May at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians. The event was hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“Religious persecution is festering and exploding around the world. What has been unconscionable for decades, centuries, has gotten worse,” Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) stated at the same event.

For U.S. citizens, President Donald Trump recently administered an executive order in which his administration vowed to protect the First Amendment religious rights of Americans.

That doesn't mean people can rest: “It has been nearly 20 years since the International Religious Freedom Act became law,” the Catholic News Service reported, adding, “Organizers of a forum at Georgetown University thought it a good time to see how the religious freedom landscape worldwide has changed since 1998.”

The Religious Freedom Research Project of Georgetown's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs held such a forum on “best practices in international religious freedom policy” on June 6 in Washington, D.C.

It's worth citing some of the language from the 1998 law signed by former President Bill Clinton. It stated: “Many of our Nation's founders fled religious persecution abroad, cherishing in their hearts and minds the ideal of religious freedom ... They established in law, as a fundamental right and as a pillar of our Nation, the right to freedom of religion. From its birth to this day, the United States has prized this legacy of religious freedom and honored this heritage by standing for religious freedom and offering refuge to those suffering religious persecution.”

Yet for Christians in the Middle East, especially, there has been a growing threat to their rights and their liberties.

Related: One Christian Is Killed Virtually Every Hour

Many radical Islamic groups have targeted minority religions (including Muslim groups that hold different views than the extremists) and set off strings of brutal terrorist attacks.

Current legislation in Congress (H.R. 390) drafted by Rep. Smith of New Jersey would provide emergency relief funds to aid victims of genocide and war crimes in Iraq and Syria.

“The Christian and Yazidi survivors of the ongoing genocide in Iraq and Syria have been crying out for help since the Islamic State’s barbarity was unleashed upon them, yet none of the U.S. humanitarian aid has reached them,” Maureen Ferguson, a senior policy adviser with The Catholic Association, said in a statement last week.

Related: What Lawmakers Said About Religious Persecution in the Middle East

“The House of Representatives unanimously passed the Iraq and Syria Relief and Accountability Act (H.R. 390) and it is vitally important that the Senate quickly pass, and the president sign, this crucial bill to provide assistance to these victims of genocide,” Ferguson added.

The global discussion of religious liberty is ongoing, but many nations are clearly at a breaking point.

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  2. christianity
  3. global
  4. international
  5. religion
  6. trump
  7. faith
  8. isis
  9. persecution
  10. religious-freedom
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