STATEMENT – Save the Persecuted Christians: International Religious Freedom Day Marks Important Benefits of International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
October 24, 2019 | For Immediate Release
Permanent Reauthorization of U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Is Crucial, with 80% of Global Population Living in Countries Where Religious Freedoms Are Oppressed
WASHINGTON—Today, Save the Persecuted Christians (STPC), which advocates on behalf of hundreds of millions of Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, is observing International Religious Freedom Day, marking the 21st anniversary of the signing of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA).
“America has always led the nations in promoting religious liberty for all people of the world,” said Save the Persecuted Christians Executive Director Dede Laugesen. “Today, with at least 80% of the global population living in countries where religious freedoms are oppressed, the important benefits of the International Religious Act cannot be understated. That’s why Save the Persecuted Christians supports the permanent reauthorization of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, one of the act’s most crucial mandates. This independent, bipartisan human rights watchdog battles every day on the frontlines for freedom by advocating for some of the world’s most vulnerable religious minorities.”
According to USCIRF, by enacting IRFA, Congress and the president elevated religious freedom as a priority in U.S. foreign policy. IRFA, passed with bipartisan support, provides that U.S. foreign policy includes condemning violations of religious freedom and assisting other governments in the promotion of this right. IRFA created a range of government tools and institutions to support this policy.
“Religious freedom is both America’s first freedom and a universal human right,” said USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins in a statement today. “As Americans, religious freedom reflects who and what we aspire to be as a nation and people. Bound up inextricably with our country’s founding and development, enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution, and guaranteed in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international instruments, it merits our firm and dedicated support abroad, wherever it is threatened. IRFA affirms this historic commitment, and provides the practical tools needed, to promote and defend international religious freedom.”
The International Religious Freedom Roundtable Congressional Working Group is also launching a multi-faith effort to call for USCIRF’s permanent reauthorization. Several organizations have signed on to a letter to four ranking members on the Committee on Foreign Relations, including Sens. Richard Durbin, Bob Menendez, James Risch and Marco Rubio. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer were also included. The Working Group is also inviting both individuals and groups to sign on by noon ET Oct. 25. View the letter and sign on here.
For believers around the world, Save the Persecuted Christians seeks to bring awareness about targeted Christians through the “The People of the Cross” exhibit, a series of vertical traveling banners that details Christian persecution in various countries around the world.
The exhibit’s banners feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; Nigeria and East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches are demolished. A majority of the countries highlighted in the banners are high on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List.
“The People of the Cross” exhibit tours the United States, reaching an audience to date of at least 50,000, and is available for churches, public venues and special events. This exhibit has been joined by another, “Warfare on Women,” released during the 2019 U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which reveals the specific terror-tactic used to demean and degrade female believers to instill fear into the heart of Christian communities. To learn more about hosting a traveling exhibit contact Save the Persecuted Christians or visit the website, where panels are available to view online.
The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.
According to Aid to the Church in Need’s biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (i.e., torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world’s Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.
Save the Persecuted Christians has developed a dedicated news aggregator—ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers with an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others. Stories are categorized and resource reports are easily accessible.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.
To interview a Save the Persecuted Christians representative, contact [email protected].