Urge Senate to Reauthorize U.S. Commission on Int’l Religious Freedom

By Richard Land
Nov 15, 2011

Dear Friends:

In just a few short days, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)—a critically important independent watchdog agency that monitors religious freedom around the world—will be forced to shut down unless Congress acts to keep it alive. I need your help in preventing that from happening.

In September, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 2867 by a 391-21 vote to extend the life of USCIRF for another two years. But unless the Senate also approves H.R. 2867—and does so this week—the commission could be forced to shut down. It is currently set to sunset this Friday, Nov. 18.

It is our understanding that one senator has placed a hold on the bill over a non-related issue. His action jeopardizes the existence of USCIRF, and his hold must be released. We support H.R. 2867 to keep the commission alive.

To allow the life of USCIRF to end would be a costly decision for the untold numbers of people around the world—many of whom are Christians—suffering at the hands of regimes that deny freedom to believe and to worship according to the dictates of their consciences. We must not allow that to happen.

If you agree, please contact your senators immediately and urge them do what they can to ensure that the House-passed H.R. 2867 is released for a Senate vote before the end of this week. You can call them through the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or send them an email here.

As an appointed USCIRF commissioner since 2001, I can personally attest to the need for and the effectiveness of the panel. Among its work, USCIRF produces a detailed annual report, country by country, of the state of religious liberty violators worldwide. Each year it also provides the secretary of State with a list of “countries of particular concern”—the most egregious violators of religious freedom. In addition, USCIRF makes policy recommendations to the State Department, the president, and Congress to help advance religious liberty around the globe. Truly, the work of the commission is both unique and valuable.

I hope you will call or email your senators today to urge them to ensure an immediate vote on H.R. 2867 to make certain that USCIRF’s work continues. Time is of the essence. Thank you in advance for taking the time to weigh in on this important measure.

In His Service,

Dr. Richard Land
The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention

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