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06/15/2022 United States (International Christian Concern) – The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has demonstrated its bipartisan commitment to advancing religious freedom around the globe. In a unanimous decision announced last Thursday, the Committee passed the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2022, a bill that would reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) through 2024. The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and co-sponsored by leading religious freedom advocates on Capitol Hill, including Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.). 

When Senator Rubio introduced the bill in March, he stated, “Freedom of religion is a God-given right afforded to all individuals… Tragically, many around the world are deprived of this fundamental protection… The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom plays a critical role in shining a light on religious freedom violations worldwide. I’m proud to lead my colleagues in this bipartisan effort so that men and women across the globe are free to safely and peacefully worship.” 

Since 1998, USCIRF has served as the top federal religious freedom advisory panel in the United States. Under the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), USCIRF is responsible for monitoring the right to freedom of religion or belief abroad and making policy recommendations to the President, Secretary of State, and Congress. Additionally, the Commission is tasked with producing an Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, which highlights countries around the world that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom.  

“[USCIRF] conducts crucial research and provides vital information on the status of religious liberty worldwide so we can ensure that religious freedom is protected and promoted for people of faith around the world,” said Senator Lankford, one of the co-sponsors of the bill. “The right to practice or have any faith is a fundamental human right of all people everywhere. We should shine a light on those who do not protect the unalienable human right of religious freedom for all people.” 

The passage of this bill through the Foreign Relations Committee follows a recent tragedy in Nigeria, where gunmen raided a Catholic church on Pentecost Sunday and slaughtered over 50 people. Senator Rubio said, “Horrific events like this demonstrate the importance of USCIRF’s work,” and that he urges “…the Senate to pass this bill without delay.” 

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