Former Congressman Frank Wolf believes that the rise of radical Islamic terrorism around the globe is an indication that World War III has arrived, yet the United States government is doing little to nothing to address the threat of jihad.
In a panel discussion focusing on religious freedom and Islamic violence across the world hosted by the Family Research Council on Wednesday, Wolf, who's the distinguished senior fellow at 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, stressed that the Obama administration and Congress are standing idle while terrorist groups like the Islamic State (IS), Boko Haram, the Taliban, al-Shabaab and others continue to commit atrocities against religious minorities worldwide.
Wolf, the former Republican representative for Virginia's 10th Congressional district who is known as a leading advocate for international human rights, followed up on a comment by fellow panelist Thomas Farr, the director of Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs.
Farr stressed that Islamic extremism is a "global threat" which threatens not only the U.S., Christians and other religious minorities, but also Muslims, who are "the greatest victims numerically" of radical Islamic violence.
"I agree with the pope, we are in World War III," Wolf said, explaining that more members of Congress need to visit victims displaced by Islamic terror and listen to the first-hand stories of rape, torture and mutilation.
"President Reagan said the words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence were a covenant, not only to the people in Philadelphia in 1776 and in 1787," Wolf continued. "We are violating the covenant."
Wolf said he has no confidence that President Barack Obama or his administration will take any concrete steps to help combat the terror problem, but stressed that Congress has the responsibility to hold "extensive hearings" to understand the connections between the jihadi violence happening in different corners of the world.
"There is a connection between Boko Haram. They pledged to ISIS. There is a connection to al-Shabaab in Somalia. There is a connection to what took place in Libya. We saw what took place in France. We saw what took place in San Bernardino. We are in World War III," Wolf argued. "Congress should be dealing with this. Forget the administration. Hold extensive hearings. Bring in the best political minds, the best military minds in dealing with this."
"We will pay the price," Wolf added. "We will pay it now or pay it later."
Although the U.S. government is leading an international coalition airstrike effort to help defeat IS in Iraq and Syria, the airstrikes have done little to solve the big picture problem of global terror.
Wolf continued by questioning Obama's leadership.
"We just don't have a leader like we had in President Reagan or in Winston Churchill or in President Kennedy or in President Truman," Wolf stated. "Do you think if this was taking place during the Truman administration, President Truman would just be doing nothing? Of course he would be doing something, and so would the Congress."
Wolf recalled a quote by the anti-Nazi theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and argued that if the United States continues to neglect the global problem then "bad things are going to happen."
"Silence in the face of evil is evil itself. Not to speak is to speak and not to act is to act,'" Wolf recited. "If we don't speak, we are saying we really don't care. They are coming and they are coming to kill people. We are in World War III and Congress and the administration is going to have to deal with it or else very bad things are going to happen in the world."
Panelist Tina Ramirez, the executive director of Hardwired Global, an organization focused on training and promoting religious freedom around the world, said even though Congress and the administration might not be acting swiftly to defeat radical terrorism, it is still possible to plant seeds that will help religious liberty grow in troubled areas around the world.
"After many years of working in Washington, I have realized that policy often comes too late," she said. "Our mission is to make it possible for more people to experience religious freedom and that is a pretty big goal."
Hardwired Global is working with leaders in countries like Sudan, Iraq and Nigeria to train them on the true definition of religious freedom so that they can defend themselves and promote change in their countries.
"If we don't want that to happen again or continue to happen in Iraq than we have to do something to make it possible for them to do something right where they are," Ramirez explained.
In the past year, Ramirez's organization has worked with 60 leaders from various religious backgrounds in Iraq to train them on what religious freedom really is and to know that dignity should be given to all people, no matter their religion or race.
"In that, they were empowered. They came to respect one another," Ramirez said.
Even a member of the Muslim Brotherhood who was involved in the gathering, who at first thought it is right to implement Shariah law on religious minorities, was able hear about the pain that Islamic radicalism has caused on others. Hearing those stories helped the Muslim Brotherhood member realize that people of other religions and even atheists have rights.
"What happened is he had a perspective shift, he had a conceptual change in his mind, and that is what we are working toward at Hardwired," Ramirez said. "People can change their own mind and thoughts about other people. As their perspective shifted, they began to realize together that they could actually make a difference in their country. Now, we have 60 leaders who are working together to implement religious freedom programs in their communities all over Iraq."
"For the first time in Iraq's history, you have people defending religious freedom for one another," she added.