>Religious leaders urged to fight global persecution
By Michelle Bauman
Washington D.C., Jan 11, 2013 / 02:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Religious leaders in America are being called upon by a U.S. congressman to advocate for those across the globe who are oppressed for their faith.
“We in the West must speak out on behalf of the persecuted church around the world,” said Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) in a Jan. 9 letter to nearly 300 Protestant and Catholic leaders.
“If the faith community in the West isn’t engaged, are we surprised when government leaders turn a blind eye to matters of religious freedom?” he asked.
A long-time advocate of religious liberty, Wolf authored the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998 and currently co-chairs the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission.
In his recent letter, he said that he plans to reintroduce a bill in the new Congress to create a special envoy in the State Department to advocate on behalf of persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East and South Central Asia.
While such legislation passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support over a year and a half ago, it stalled in the Senate due to opposition from the State Department and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair John Kerry, who refused to hold a hearing on the legislation, he said.While he acknowledged that a special envoy will not “single-handedly solve the problem,” Wolf stressed that it would be very helpful to have a high-level official focusing exclusively on religious minorities.
“Furthermore, to do nothing is simply not an option,” he said.
Calling American religious leaders to action, the congressman decried the “fear of persecution and outright violence or even death” that overshadows the Christmas season for believers in much of the world.
“Every day, around the world, men and women of faith are imprisoned, beaten, detained, tortured and even killed,” he said. (Read more here.)