Cong. Smith Followin Recent Attacks: Advancing Religious Liberty Worldwide Must Be a U.S. Priority

smith tls“The recent attacks in Paris and Nigeria remind us again that religious freedom and religious engagement need to be central pillars of U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy—we ignore this fact at our peril,” said Cong. Chris Smith, (NJ-04) Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Human Rights.

“Too many people are jailed, suffer, or die for their faith every year,” said Smith. “There is mounting evidence showing that countries which restrict religious freedom experience higher levels of religious extremism and persecution. The U.S. government must do more to stop religious-related violence, the daily persecution of Christians and so many other religious groups, and a growing and ugly resurgence of anti-Semitism. The world is crying out for solutions and the U.S. must be the unequivocal leader in advancing religious liberty; it will be one of my priorities in the 114th Congress.”

Among the priorities Cong. Smith will pursue in the new 114th Congress will be providing U.S. diplomats with more tools to fight religious persecution, terrorism, and sectarian violence (such as his Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2014), fighting for the release of Pastor Abedini and other Americans in Iran, and protecting vulnerable religious minorities in the Middle East, China, Vietnam, Central Asia, and Africa.

Smith has promoted religious freedom and other human rights issues as chairman and co-chairman of the U.S. Commission for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the U.S. Commission on China.

The origins of Religious Freedom Day are rooted in the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on January 16, 1786. One of the first American laws to protect religious liberty, it was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and guided through the Virginia legislature by James Madison. National Religious Freedom Day was first proclaimed by President George H.W. Bush and first commemorated on January 16, 1993.

[TLS]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. USA continues to decline in various international freedom rankings… Leading by example, not violent international interventionism, should be the first priority.

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