A press release from Congressman Randy Hultgren:
Hultgren Praises Passage of Update to Frank Wolf Legislation to Protect Religious Minorities Globally
Washington, DC – In light of the disturbing increase of persecution of religious minorities throughout the world, U.S. Representative Randy Hultgren (IL-14) praised the unanimous passage today of a bill he cosponsored, H.R. 1150, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015, out of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
The bill mitigates religious persecutions by providing enhanced training and tools for diplomats to counter extremism in the Middle East and globally.
“My former colleague and mentor Frank Wolf produced one of the most important legislative protections for religious minorities around the world: the International Religious Freedom Act. Unfortunately, while attacks on religious liberty are on the rise, the administration has fallen short in incorporating the provisions and recommendations the law lays out to protect people of faith,” said Rep. Hultgren.
“H.R. 1150 builds upon IRFA with targeted provisions to ensure religious liberty is a central component of our nation’s foreign policy.
“Massacres of Kenyan and Pakistani Christians and ongoing persecution of religious minorities by the Islamic State remind us that upholding religious liberty requires strong voices to defend it everywhere. Updating IRFA moves us closer to the goal of extending that liberty worldwide.”
H.R. 1150 is named for retired Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), a tireless defender of International Religious Freedom and the sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, a landmark piece of legislation which obligates Congress and the President to consider religious freedom while formulating U.S. foreign policy. H.R. 1150 updates two key entities created by the original law:
An Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in the State Department.
Update – H.R. 1150 would raise the Ambassador’s status to ensure that this person functions as a principal advisor to the Secretary of State.
A Special Advisor on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council.
Update – H.R. 1150 would require the President to make the appointment.
Additionally, H.R. 1150:
- Authorizes the President to take specified action against persons who carry out, or support, violence against religious groups.
- Provides mandatory training on religious freedom for all Foreign Service officers.
- Declares the sense of Congress that ongoing and persistent waivers for designated countries, especially those engaging in particularly severe violations of religious freedom, do not fulfill IRFA purposes.
- Declares the sense of Congress that the President, the Secretary, and other executive branch officials, in consultation with Congress, should seek to find ways to address existing violations, on a country-by-country basis, through specified actions.
At a hearing on “Confronting the Genocide of Religious Minorities: A Way Forward” this week, Rep. Hultgren welcomed Congressman Wolf back to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which he once chaired.
Rep. Hultgren is also a cosponsor of H.Res. 139, a resolution condemning violence against religious minorities in the Middle East.