The global crisis of religious freedom

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THE GLOBAL CRISIS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS, AND

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTEENTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

OCTOBER 27, 2015

Serial No. 114?145

Printed for the use of the Committee on Foreign Affairs

(

Available via the World Wide Web: or

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COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS

EDWARD R. ROYCE, California, Chairman

CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Florida DANA ROHRABACHER, California STEVE CHABOT, Ohio JOE WILSON, South Carolina MICHAEL T. MCCAUL, Texas TED POE, Texas MATT SALMON, Arizona DARRELL E. ISSA, California TOM MARINO, Pennsylvania JEFF DUNCAN, South Carolina MO BROOKS, Alabama PAUL COOK, California RANDY K. WEBER SR., Texas SCOTT PERRY, Pennsylvania RON DESANTIS, Florida MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina TED S. YOHO, Florida CURT CLAWSON, Florida SCOTT DESJARLAIS, Tennessee REID J. RIBBLE, Wisconsin DAVID A. TROTT, Michigan LEE M. ZELDIN, New York DANIEL DONOVAN, New York

ELIOT L. ENGEL, New York BRAD SHERMAN, California GREGORY W. MEEKS, New York ALBIO SIRES, New Jersey GERALD E. CONNOLLY, Virginia THEODORE E. DEUTCH, Florida BRIAN HIGGINS, New York KAREN BASS, California WILLIAM KEATING, Massachusetts DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island ALAN GRAYSON, Florida AMI BERA, California ALAN S. LOWENTHAL, California GRACE MENG, New York LOIS FRANKEL, Florida TULSI GABBARD, Hawaii JOAQUIN CASTRO, Texas ROBIN L. KELLY, Illinois BRENDAN F. BOYLE, Pennsylvania

AMY PORTER, Chief of Staff

THOMAS SHEEHY, Staff Director

JASON STEINBAUM, Democratic Staff Director

SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS, AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH, New Jersey, Chairman

MARK MEADOWS, North Carolina CURT CLAWSON, Florida SCOTT DESJARLAIS, Tennessee DANIEL DONOVAN, New York

KAREN BASS, California DAVID CICILLINE, Rhode Island AMI BERA, California

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C O N T E N T S

Page

WITNESSES The Honorable David N. Saperstein, Ambassador-at-Large for International

Religious Freedom, U.S. Department of State ................................................... 5 Robert P. George, Ph.D., chairman, U.S. Commission on International Reli-

gious Freedom ...................................................................................................... 34 LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING

The Honorable David N. Saperstein: Prepared statement ................................... 10 Robert P. George, Ph.D.: Prepared statement ....................................................... 40

APPENDIX Hearing notice .......................................................................................................... 68 Hearing minutes ...................................................................................................... 69

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THE GLOBAL CRISIS OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2015

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, SUBCOMMITTEE ON AFRICA, GLOBAL HEALTH, GLOBAL HUMAN RIGHTS, AND INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS,

COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Washington, DC.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 12:30 p.m., in room 2172 Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Christopher H. Smith (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.

Mr. SMITH. The subcommittee will come to order, and good afternoon to everyone.

The world is experiencing an unprecedented crisis of international religious freedom, a crisis that has and continues to create hundreds of millions of victims, a crisis that undermines liberty, prosperity, and peace, a crisis that poses a direct challenge to the U.S. interests in the Middle East, Central and East Asia, Russia, China and sub-Saharan Africa, to name just a few.

In large parts of the world this fundamental freedom is constantly and brutally under siege. The worldwide erosion of respect for this fundamental freedom is the cause of widespread human suffering, grave injustices, refugee flows and significant threats to peace.

This Congress has heard the cries of Iraqi and Syrian Christians who face the threat of extinction, slavery, and death.

We have heard about the plight that Rohingya Muslims who face attacks and such unimaginable discrimination from hardline Buddhist groups that many choose slavery elsewhere than life in Burma.

We have heard about the persecution faced by Chinese Christians, Tibetan Buddhists, Uyghur Muslims and Falun Going at the hands of the Communist Party, suspicious of organized religion.

Many of us on this subcommittee have seen first-hand the religious dividing lines in sub-Saharan Africa that are the cause of so much death and destruction, especially by groups like al-Shabaab and Boko Haram.

In a world where some people are willing to kill those whose beliefs are different from theirs, where anti-Semitism persists even in the most tolerant of places, and where authoritarian governments use strong religious faith as a potential threat to their legitimacy, it is more important than ever that the United States engage in robust religious freedom diplomacy, which uses all the tools avail-

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able enshrined in the landmark International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

The stakes are too high and the suffering too great to downplay religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy. But, unfortunately, we often hear from religious groups globally and from NGOs working on the issue that this administration has sidelined the promotion of religious freedom.

This criticism does not discount the exemplary work done by our men and women at the State Department and the efforts of Ambassador Saperstein himself.

They do important and substantive work but it seems too often that the issue is marginalized and isolated from issues of national security or economic development even though we know from academic research that countries with the highest levels of religious freedom experience more prosperity and less terrorism.

Religious persecution has catastrophic consequences for religious communities and for individual victims. But it also undermines the national security of the United States.

Without religious freedom, aspiring democracies will continue to face instability. Sustained economic growth will be more difficult to achieve.

Obstructions will remain to the advancement of the rights of women and girls and perhaps most urgent of all religious terrorism will continue to be nourished and exported.

The global religious freedom crisis will not disappear anytime soon. According to the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, 75 percent of the world's population lives in countries where severe religious persecution occurs regularly.

It has been almost 17 years since the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. For the record, I chaired virtually every one of the hearings that led to its passage, and as we all know it was authored by Congressman Frank Wolf, a tremendous advocate for religious freedom.

Religious freedom diplomacy has developed under three administrations of both parties. Unfortunately, the grim global realities demonstrate that our Nation has had little effect on the rise of persecution and the decline of religious freedom and it is worth asking why.

Is it worth asking not only what the State Department is doing, but more importantly, what can be done better? Are new tools and new ideas needed to help U.S. religious freedom diplomacy address one of the great crises of the 21st century?

Does the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 need to be upgraded to reflect 21st century realities? That is why I introduced the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015.

This legislation named after the author, as I mentioned a moment ago, of the original IRF Act would, among other things, strengthen the role of the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom and the International Religious Freedom office at State and give more tools to the administration to address the crisis we face.

The bill is roundly endorsed and supported by a broad diverse array of religious freedom, civil society, and diaspora organizations.

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