WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member on the Senate Armed Services Committee today introduced the bi-partisan Religious Freedom Resolution (S.Res.69), which would seek protection of religious minority rights and freedoms around the world. The legislation was introduced with the following cosponsors: Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), John Thune (R-S.D.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), James Lankford (R-Okla.). Rep. Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) will be introducing the House companion legislation in the coming days.
“In recent years, we have seen a growing number of reports of religious minority groups being violently persecuted around the world. We have seen the burning of churches, the mass execution of religious communities, and the kidnapping and child-trafficking of young girls simply because of their families’ religious affiliation. The United States has a moral responsibility to lead in the international effort to protect the rights and freedoms of these minority groups," said Inhofe. “The Religious Freedom Resolution helps to give a voice to religious minorities by stating that the United States will be vigilant in working toward repealing existing blasphemy laws internationally. This resolution would send a message that the United States remains committed to the fundamental human right of religious freedom for all, a value gifted to us by our founding fathers."
“Religious freedom is one of our most basic principles and the very first right mentioned in the Bill of Rights,” Thune said. “Sadly, millions across the globe are imprisoned, persecuted, and even killed because of their faith. I will continue to fight to protect these minority religious communities and it’s my privilege to join my colleagues in this resolution calling for the protection of religious freedoms across the globe.”
“Even before the founding of our country, religious liberty has been sacred to the American people,” said Portman. “And when religious liberty is threatened around the world, we must lead the fight against those who would deny it. Today in the Middle East, we are witnessing the systematic purging of Christians, and this resolution is a call for action to stand shoulder to shoulder with them.”
“While Americans have the right to freely practice their religious beliefs, this is not widely accepted around the globe. Too often we hear of individuals and groups facing persecution because of their beliefs. We have an obligation to promote religious tolerance worldwide. I will continue to promote our ideal of religious freedom because citizens around the world deserve it,” Boozman said.
“Religious freedom is one of America’s founding principles and most sacred tenets,” Wicker said. “Across the globe, too many people are being persecuted for practicing their faith. The United States should do more to stand with those who are bravely fighting for the right to worship as they see fit.”
“America’s Founders fled from a regime of religious persecution, sacrificing their lives to birth a new place of liberty,” Lankford said. They not only believed that religious freedom was fundamental to shape this new nation, but that religious freedom was a fundamental human right for all people. The religious persecution that occurs around the worldwide is a great international tragedy. This resolution is a declaration that we not only stand with people fighting for a right to live out their faith freely around the world, but that we are committed to protecting this fundamental right.”
"I am proud to join Senator Inhofe in offering this resolution,” Bridenstine said. "The rise in violent attacks, blasphemy laws, and anti-conversion laws threaten freedom of religion worldwide. The recent cases of Meriam Ibrahim and Pastor Saeed Abedini demonstrate that religious minorities are increasingly under threat, particularly Christians in the Middle East. Our resolution sends the world a signal that the United States is committed to protecting religious freedom and repealing existing blasphemy and apostasy laws."
The resolution mentions a number of high-profile instances where the freedom to proselytize by minority religious communities has come under repeated and deadly attack through so-called blasphemy laws and anti-conversion laws. It includes the two most recent instances of the Sudanese Christian woman, Meriam Ibrahim, who was imprisoned and sentence to death by hanging for allegedly committing apostasy from Islam; and the young Christian Pakistani couple, Shama Bibi and Sajjad Maseeh, who were brutally beaten by a mob in Punjab Province and were locked in a brick kiln to burn to death while a crowd of 1,2000 watched for alleged blasphemy of the desecration of a Koran.
The resolution also condemns the reign of terror brought by ISIL who has sought to destroy any person of faith that does not embrace their radical interpretation of Islam. The text states that ISIL led the distruction of Jonah’s tomb in Mosul, the destruction of Sunni shrines and mosques in Ninevah, the destruction of Christian churches in Syria, and the slaughter of anyone who resists their teachings.
A copy of the resolution can be read by clicking here.