This is about the freedom of religion. Both at home and abroad. While we have vast and continuously growing measures to protect these rights at home, it is our hope that these freedoms might be felt everywhere around the world.
Protecting Religious Freedom at Home
“In America, we have a moral imperative to ensure that no matter your background, religion, or walk of life, you are safe and free to worship whatever religion you choose without fear.”
The freedom of religion is an inalienable right. It is the bedrock on which our nation was founded and it is protected by our constitution. This is why we are fighting tooth and nail to ensure that these freedoms are protected.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the number of anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. skyrocketed by 86 percent in the first three months of this year. These incidents included, but were not confined to, cases of vandalism, cemetery desecration and bomb threats against Jewish community centers.
It was these vile actions against Jewish Americans that led us to take action. The bipartisan bill, Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act (H.R. 1730) was amended and passed by the House on December 11, 2017.
This bill amends current law to ensure that any credible threats of violence against any religious institution, regardless of religion, be prosecuted for obstructing people in their basic freedom to exercise religious beliefs. In other words, this measure strengthens federal criminal statutes to deter any further threats against religious institutions.
“Freedom of religion is a core American value and is to be protected. All Americans have a constitutional right to practice their religious beliefs openly and without fear of persecution. Sadly, we have witnessed many threats and acts of violence against religious institutions and centers and we must ensure our laws appropriately punish those seeking to intimidate people of faith.”
-House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Ensuring Religious Freedom Around the World
The freedom of religion is something we, as Americans, often take for granted. There are places around the world that today still discriminate, imprison, torture, and even kill others for their religious beliefs. Think of ISIS in the Middle East, Boko Haram in many parts of Africa, or even Kim Jong-Un in North Korea.
And do you know which religion is suffering most in these places? It may surprise you that Christian persecution tops the charts in these nations. In fact, according to Open Doors’ 2017 World Watch List report, the global persecution of Christians is on the rise, with approximately one in twelve Christians experiencing persecution for their faith.
This persecution ranges from social harassment and discrimination to physical violence, imprisonment, torture, enslavement, rape, and death.
It is because of these stories, growing in number and breadth, that we affirm through H.Res 407, the Condemning the Persecution of Christians Around the World, that such persecution must cease.
Religious freedom is not just an American right. It is a universal right. That’s why we have:
- Condemned the persecution of Christians around the world;
- Called on discriminatory regimes to cease their persecution of Christians and religious minorities;
- Urged the heads of government of all democratic nations to uphold the right to religious freedom and condemn the global persecution of Christians.
While we recognize Christians are not the only victims of persecution, we are reaffirming that this global problem must be addressed.
“As we prepare for this Christmas season, may we all pray that vulnerable and persecuted Christians find hope and peace. No one should live in fear of violence or death for practicing their faith openly and freely. That’s a God-given and fundamental right.”
-House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers