Wanted: Candidates Who Care about Religious Liberty
This past Tuesday, FRC had the privilege of hosting an event called “Radical Islam and Christian Persecution: What’s Happening in the Middle East and Africa.”
Some of the recent developments regarding religious freedom violations around the world were discussed — with special focus on the actions of Boko Haram in Nigeria and ISIS in the Middle East. No doubt, these issues are on every American’s mind — but as we head into the Republican Presidential debate, we hope they’re on the candidates’ minds as well.
Speaker Doug Bandow, a Stanford-educated attorney from the Cato Institute, gave an insightful overview of the status of religious liberty worldwide — paying particular attention to the fallout for religious liberty (of Christians and others) from ISIS operations in the Middle East. Mr. Bandow has extensive experience in public life (he served as a Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan) and a deep knowledge of foreign policy, and expressed concern at some of the United States’ foreign policy missteps from the State Department.
Our other guest was Emmanual Ogebe, an international human rights lawyer who was exiled to the United States after being a political detainee of an earlier Nigerian military dictatorship. A recognized expert on religious persecution in Nigeria, Mr. Ogebe has testified before Congress and was instrumental to the International Criminal Court’s decision to examine Boko Haram for crimes against humanity. As he told the audience, it’s time to be honest about Boko Haram’s motivations — which stem from radical Islamic ideology — and how this recognition is necessary to truly tackle the problems in Nigeria.
The Director of FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty, Travis Weber, hosted the panel and in closing reminded our guests that although these problem are grave, we must remember the truth that God walks with believers through dark places (as He did for Damaris Atsen, a Nigerian woman who has an amazing testimony of God’s comforting presence and power in the aftermath of Boko Haram killing her husband).
This truth about God should bring us hope even as we face the daunting challenges for religious liberty around the world. In the meantime, our job is to communicate these threats and protect the ability for others to communicate them (and ask our leaders to protect this universal human right) no matter where it is exercised around the world.
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