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Open Doors USA Urges Re-Authorization of US Religious Freedom Commission

USCIRF Could Cease to Exist After Nov. 18

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By Katherine Weber, Christian Post Reporter
November 1, 2011|11:33 pm

Christian organization Open Doors USA is calling on the Senate to reinstate The U.S. Commission of International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which must be re-authorized by Nov. 18 to continue existence.

“Failure to re-authorize the USCIRF would send a message to rest of the world that religious freedom is no longer a national priority,” Dr. Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA, said in a statement.

“Open Doors urges all senators to vote for HR 2867 which makes some key reforms to the USCIRF and will ensure its doors do not close,” he added.

The HR 2867 is a contract of reforms which will re-authorize USCIRF’s existence for the next two years. Although the House of Representatives approved the bill with an outstanding vote of 391-21 back in September, there is currently one senator who anonymously called back the bill.

Critics argue that this call back of the bill could be Senate’s attempt to dispose of the USCIRF in a discrete, quiet fashion, for if the bill is not voted on by Nov. 18, USCIRF will cease to exist.

Many argue that USCIRF, with a small budget of $4 million, is imperative to maintain because it seeks religious freedom for those persecuted for their beliefs around the world.

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Although very vocal concerning Christian persecution, including the killings of 27 Coptic Christians in Egypt on Oct. 9, USCIRF has spoken out about religious freedom concerning all religions.

The independent, bipartisan federal commission offers advice to the president in matters concerning religious plurality and acceptance.

When the aforementioned 27 Christians were killed in military/civilian clashes in Cairo Sunday, Oct. 9, USCIRF requested a “thorough, impartial, and independent investigation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice in civilian courts.”

The Christian population in Egypt has diminished by 95,000 since the wave of uprisings, which began in February.

Similarly, USCIRF released a statement in September condemning the actions of Iran’s court concerning the case of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, who is currently awaiting a verdict, which could be execution, concerning apostasy and evangelizing Muslims accusations.

USCIRF chair Leonardo Leo called the court proceedings a “sham,” and cited that Iran was in blatant violation of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“USCIRF is a valuable watchdog for international religious freedom,” said Moeller.

“I have traveled to many countries where Christians and other minorities are persecuted for their faith and don’t have a voice. The USCIRF needs to be one of those voices for religious liberty. I urge the Senate to vote for HR 2867,” he added.

 

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