Date: October 27, 2023
USA (MNN) — The International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) turns 25 today. It was signed into law by American President Bill Clinton in 1998.
The IRFA prioritized religious freedom in United States foreign policy and created two government bodies that advance religious freedom worldwide.
Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA (VOM) explains, “The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issues an annual report and watches religious freedom issues around the world. The Office of Religious Freedom in the State Department makes the designations of Countries of Particular Concern or Entities of Particular Concern.”
However, prioritizing religious freedom on paper or principle is not the same as upholding it in action, though it is a necessary first step.
From there, it is up to authorities to use notices of religious freedom violations to take action against the offending countries or entities.
“It’s not something government officials are talking about,” says Nettleton. “The law established a toolbox for the administration to use; you can sanction a foreign government because of repeated persecution of religious minorities. But most administrations have been hesitant to use those tools.”
Protecting religious freedom allows Christians to share the Gospel. Persecuted believers often need an advocate.
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Then, Nettleton asks, “Pray for wisdom for our government officials and discernment in using those tools to genuinely protect religious minorities in countries around the world.”
Header photo courtesy of David Watkis/Unsplash.