Congress Reauthorizes USCIRF

Congress has passed legislation reauthorizing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) for four years.
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed Senate bill 2078 by voice vote, six days after the full Senate approved the legislation unanimously. It now awaits President Obama’s signature to become law.
The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative is one of dozens of NGOs and religious groups that signed an International Religious Freedom Roundtable letter urging Congress to pass the bill. 21CWI Executive Vice President Elijah Brown said Congress should be commended for its bipartisan efforts to secure funding for this commission at a critical time in human history.
“USCIRF serves a vital role in the promotion, protection and preservation of the fundamental right of religious freedom for people all over the world,” said Brown. “This passage will allow the dedicated and capable Commissioners and staff at USCIRF to continue their efforts for years to come.”
During the House debate, Congressman Chris Smith referenced the International Religious Freedom Roundtable letter in support of reauthorization. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops endorses USCIRF’s reauthorization, as do over 80 different nongovernmental organizations and religious groups,” Congressman Smith said. “These groups sent a letter to every Member of Congress and said, in pertinent part, ‘while there is very little we agree on theologically, or politically, we all agree on the importance of religious freedom.'”
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bob Corker (R-TN), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) introduced the legislation.
“Attacks on houses of worship, imprisonment, and even death are daily realities for people of faith around the world,” Senator Rubio said. “This is especially true for religious minorities in the Middle East who are facing a genocidal onslaught.
“I welcome this 4-year authorization which would allow (USCIRF) to focus, without distraction, on their critical mandate at precisely the time it’s most needed.”
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan commission dedicated to defending the freedom of religion worldwide. This legislation charges the commission with independently assessing and describing threats to religious freedom around the world, and helps ensure that U.S. efforts to advance religious freedom abroad are timely, appropriate, and effective.
Author: Wilberforce
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