Senate May Force Shutdown of Religious Freedom Watchdog

USCIRF chairman Leonard Leo and commissioners Nina Shea, Felice Gaer and Talal Eid meet with Pakistani Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti. Bhatti, the only Christian member of the Pakistan's federal cabinet, was assassinated in Islamabad on March 2, 2011 by gunmen who linked the killing to his opposition to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. (Photo: USCIRF)
Atlas Shrugs

More Islamic supremacism infecting every decision and policy coming out of the decaying beltway. Imagine: the one independent monitor of the oppression, subjugation and persecution of faith under Muslim, communist and autocratic regimes is about to ...disappear.


The idea that non-Muslims would be expendable but funding mosque building across the world, State department tours to the Middle East by stealth jihadists like Imam Faisal Rauf, funding Hamas, funding  Islamic banking, funding Pakistan, the billions going to "outreach" and "interfaith dialogue" all to make Islamic supremacism and our dhimmitude more palatable, is a stunning indictment of how we have failed humanity.
Senate May Force Shutdown of Religious Freedom Watchdog
( – For more than a decade, an independent, statutory monitor has been advising the U.S. executive and legislative branches on international religious freedom, drawing attention to the persecution of people of faith under Muslim, communist and autocratic regimes from Riyadh to Rangoon. But by this time next week, it may have to close its doors.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) will shut down unless the U.S. Senate approves a reauthorization bill before then, or unless funding is included in a new continuing resolution (CR) to fund the federal government through the end of the year.
Last September the House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming vote a bill extending the USCIRF’s life for another two years. The bill was referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where it has been held up – by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), according to published reports.
Durbin’s office has not responded to inquiries and requests for comment.
If the Senate does not pass the bill before the current temporary authorization expires next Friday, and the commission is not covered in a new CR, it will cease to operate.
Since its formation in 1999, the USCIRF has kept the issue of religious persecution on the agenda, while challenging three administrations to take firmer steps against regimes that violate religious freedom.
It has drawn attention to the plight of Christians in predominantly Islamic countries such as Pakistan, Iraq and Nigeria; to ongoing religious restrictions and harassment of believers by Vietnam’s communist authorities; to incitement in Saudi school textbooks and materials used in mosques in the U.S.; to attempts by the Islamic bloc at the U.N. to outlaw religious “defamation” and promote blasphemy laws; and to the persecution of Baha’is in Iran, Buddhists and Protestants in Burma and Uighur Muslims in China.
‘Vital role, valuable resource’
The possibility of a USCIRF shutdown has alarmed some religious freedom advocacy groups.
“The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom plays a vital role in defending religious freedom around the world,” American Center for Law and Justice executive director Jordan Sekulow said Thursday.
“The USCIRF’s independent nature makes its work unique. It is a valuable resource in a world where religious persecution and violations of religious freedom continue to threaten people of faith – especially Christians.”
Pointing to the still-unresolved case of an Iranian pastor sentenced to death for apostasy, Sekulow said the ACLJ was grateful for the USCIRF’s concern and support for Youcef Nadarkhani.
He urged the Senate to approve the bill, “to continue funding this important entity.”
Lindsay Vessey, advocacy director at Open Doors USA, said in an earlier statement that “[f]ailure to re-authorize the USCIRF would send a message to rest of the world that religious freedom is no longer a national priority.”
In a recent letter to senators, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) also voiced concern about the situation.
“Ongoing attacks against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East and in other parts of the world point to the need to pay more, not less, attention to religious freedom,” wrote Bishop Howard Hubbard, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Citing recent violence against Christians in Egypt, Nigeria and Iraq, he said the mission of the USCIRF was today “more important than ever.”
“Abolition of this body would send an unintended message to the rest of the world. Oppressive groups may come to believe that the United States is not committed to the protection of religious liberty.”
CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family, is urging Americans to contact their senators to urge reauthorization of the USCIRF.

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