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ICC Note: Christians face a rising level of religious freedom around the world, and especially in the Middle East. Two recent studies from respected research organizations, Pew Forum and Open Doors, have highlighted the massive scale of the issue. Many are pushing for the United States to make the protection of religious minorities a core part of foreign policy, which the administration says that it already is. The problem has been in the failure to back the rhetoric with action. While there are political issues involved, it is imperative that the positions that exist to protect religious minorities be quickly filled if the United States is to have any credibility behind its claims to be a defender of religious freedom.
By Ryan Mauro
02/19/2014 Middle East (FrontPage Mag) – Global persecution of Christians, especially in the Muslim world, is one of the most overlooked human rights disasters of the 21st century. Christian activists are demanding that the State Department add a new envoy for religious minorities in the Middle East, but their campaign is stymied by those concerned about government redundancy.
Christians United for Israel, Coptic Solidarity, the North American Religious Liberty Association and other groups are fighting for the Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act of 2013. They believe that the crisis warrants a specially-focused diplomatic post.
Ironically, one of the supporters is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a member of the Shoulder-to-Shoulder interfaith coalition that is allied with the Islamic Society of North America, a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity.
The opposing side is Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT). Their position is that this is already the duty of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who also heads the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
Their argument is that adding to the bureaucracy isn’t the proper solution. If the U.S. is failing to address Christian persecution, it’s a failure of policy and leadership and not the configuration of the government.
At the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama spoke out against persecution of Christians, calling for the release of a Christian missionary held in North Korea for 15 months and a Christian pastor in Iran that’s been imprisoned for over 18 months. He also criticized blasphemy and defamation laws that are used to suppress religious freedom.
However, words have not been met with action. The perpetrators of the persecution do not face serious consequences for their actions. It is not a significant part of American global diplomacy and international relations and the American public is not educated about the scale of the problem.
About 100 million Christians around the world live in a state of persecution because of their faith, according to the Open Doors organization. It is estimated that a Christian is killed every five minutes. The Pew Research Center finds that Christians are the most persecuted religious group, facing oppression in 110 countries.

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