October 27 is the 16th anniversary of the creation of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, which obligates the U.S. president to take religious freedom into account when carrying out America’s foreign policy. The act also created an Office of International Religious Freedom within the State Department, as well as the bipartisan, independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which makes policy recommendations to the administration.
To mark the occasion, David Saperstein, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and Robert George, chairman of the independent commission, provided lengthy summaries of the state of religious freedom around the world to the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations.
The nearly 3-hour hearing can be viewed here. Though the 16-year-old law concerns itself with all faiths, much of the 27 Oct. hearing testimony, describing the fate of Christians under pressure around the world, will be familiar to readers of World Watch Monitor.
“Today we face an enormous challenge, and that challenge is that Christians, in the Middle East in particular, are being targeted for extinction. They are targeted for genocide,” said Dana Rohrabacher, a California congressman who is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats, in his opening remarks.