The time to pass the International Religious Freedom Act is now
Congress has an opportunity to enact important legislation — an updated version of the International Religious Freedom Act. This is not only necessary to permit broader protection for religious freedoms around the world; it presents a golden opportunity, in this season of political polarization, for a bipartisan purple moment by the U.S. Congress.
The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), one of the U.S. Congress’s most famous human rights champions, and Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), another human rights crusader and one of the most progressive Democrats in the party. Also strongly supporting the bill is another well-known human rights and progressive leader in the House, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who gave an eloquent statement in support of the bill on the floor of the House.
Other civil society leaders supporting the bill include Alan Dershowitz, the liberal professor of Harvard Law School; the honorable former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman; His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.; David Novak, president of the Union for Traditional Judaism; Robert Woodson, founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise; Hamza Yusuf, president of Zaytuna College; Richard M. Joel, president of Yeshiva University and Bravmann Family University professor; and Imam Talal Y. Eid, of the Islamic Institute of Boston and formerly of the Commission on International Religious Freedom.
I hope this legislation can be approved by the Senate this week, in time for the president to sign before Christmas. It would be an ideal Christmas present to give greater protection for individuals and all religious groups around the world, some of whom are in danger of persecution because of oppressive and intolerant governments.
We can and should take a stand for religious liberty in this season of peace, and for bipartisan cooperation that we hope can continue into the New Year and for years to come. I only hope the Senate will act quickly and unanimously to get this legislation approved in the next several days.