Welcome to Faith on Freedom, my new video blog post series that will appear occasionally on Juicy Ecumenism. Faith on Freedom is also the title of my occasional e-newsletter for subscribers. (If you are interested in issues of global Christian persecution and religious freedom, please sign up for the e-newsletter.)
My first video blog post is based on my latest article on Juicy Ecumenism concerning the important role of advocacy in the successful reauthorization by Congress of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). IRD helped to recruit signatories to a letter sponsored by the International Religious Freedom Roundtable to the leaders on both sides of the aisle of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urging passage of a strong bill to reauthorize this vital commission.
Thanks to this pressure from advocates, USCIRF’s reauthorization did take place, but not with the strongest bill for which we had hoped. As our friend and great defender of religious freedom retired U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA) has made perfectly clear, policy is downstream of culture. And culture is downstream of the churches.
Through prayer and advocacy the churches could change the climate of the wider culture to prioritize what is the worst human rights issue in the world today: religious persecution. And then that wider culture could bring change to U.S. government policy. What an awesome privilege for churches in the West, to be advocates and intercessors for our persecuted brothers and sisters! And what a fearful responsibility — we will be held accountable before the throne of God.
In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,
Silence in the face of evil is itself evil:
God will not hold us guiltless.
Not to speak is to speak.
Not to act is to act.