Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), one of Congress' most prolific defenders of religious freedom and human rights, announced Tuesday he will be retiring at the end of his current term.
In announcing his retirement, Wolf mentioned the influence of his Christian faith on his decision to fight for human rights while a member of Congress.
"As a follower of Jesus, I am called to work for justice and reconciliation, and to be an advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves," he said.
After retiring from Congress, Wolf said he would continue his work on human rights issues. He also mentioned the influence of the late Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and a popular evangelical author, and William Wilberforce, the 18th century British parliamentarian and evangelical Christian who led the effort to end the slave trade in England.
"I plan to focus my future work on human rights and religious freedom – both domestic and international – as well as matters of the culture and the American family," he said. "My passion for these issues has been influenced by the examples of President Ronald Reagan, former Congressmen Jack Kemp and Tony Hall, Chuck Colson, and the life of 18th century Member of Parliament William Wilberforce."
Wolf was the author of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. IRFA created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom within the State Department. It also allowed for sanctions to be placed on nations that infringe upon its citizens' religious freedom.
Wolf has also worked on the issues of poverty and hunger, and the national debt. He holds a seat on the coveted Appropriations Committee. He has a reputation for being well-liked by members of both parties and for his willingness to build consensus across party lines.
Wolf was first elected to Virginia's 10th district, just outside Washington, D.C., in 1980. The district has been a solid Republican seat mostly due to the popularity of Wolf himself. With Wolf's retirement, the district will likely become a competitive swing district. President Barack Obama won the district in 2008 and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district in 2012.