In a bipartisan op-ed in the Washington Post, Robert P. George, Republican chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and Democratic Vice Chair Katrina Lantos Swett, urged the Obama administration to renew its concern about six countries with serious religious freedom problems.
"Although religious freedom is a pivotal human right, critical to national security and global stability, key provisions of the landmark International Religious Freedom Act are being neglected," George and Swett wrote on Tuesday. This 1998 law, which set up USCIRF, requires the State Department to review and designate "Countries of Particular Concern," or CPCs, where religious freedom is being violated, so the U.S. government can take possible diplomatic or economic steps.
"Unfortunately, neither Republican nor Democratic administrations have consistently designated countries that clearly meet the standard for offenders," George and Swett continued. Since the designation only lasts two years, countries designated CPCs in August 2011 must be reviewed and classified by the end of this month. more >>
The U.S. State Department will be reaching out more to religious leaders and communities at home and abroad, Secretary of State John Kerry explained as he announced Wednesday a new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives within the State Department.
"I want you to go out and engage religious leaders and faith-based communities in our day-to-day work," Kerry told State Department workers. "Build strong relationships with them and listen to their insights and understand the important contributions that they can make individually and that we can make together."
The new office will be headed by Dr. Shaun Casey, professor of Christian Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary. An expert on religion and politics, Casey wrote a 2009 book on religion and the 1960 presidential election. During the 2008 presidential campaign, he worked on encouraging evangelicals to vote for then-candidate Barack Obama. more >>
Christian hip-hop music website Rapzilla.com is joining together with the New York Urban City Project and rap artists to put a stop to human trafficking in New York City with King Kulture: Stop the Traffic.
Other organizations involved are Syntax Distribution and InterVarsity, and together they are releasing the compilation album "King Kulture: Stop The Traffic" on Aug. 27. All proceeds will be donated to New York City Urban Project, a non-profit organization.
"Child Trafficking is the recruitment, smuggling, transporting, harboring, buying or selling of a child through force, threats, fraud, deception, or coercion for the purposes of exploitation, prostitution, pornography, migrant work, sweatshops, domestic servitude, forced labor, bondage, peonage or involuntary servitude. Child trafficking is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. UNICEF values the global market of child trafficking at over $12 billion a year with over 2 million child victims. Men, women and children are all victims but, the most vulnerable groups, those with limited rights or protections, have been the hardest hit … especially children," said Rapzilla in a press release. more >>
The lives of more than 5,000 children may have been lost to the civil war in Syria, according to recent reports, and now Open Doors USA has brought to international attention the testimonies of two young girls living in fear in the country where violence and killings have become almost a part of daily life for the nation's most innocent victims.
"It's scary. We hear a lot of bad stories about what is happening around us. On the streets there are soldiers everywhere. We see smoke from fighting and hear bombings all the time," said 13-year-old Youmna, a Christian girl who lives in Damascus, Syria with her sister, 10-year-old Nashita, according to Open Doors USA.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that around 100,000 people have been killed in the civil war between government forces and rebels, and among those numbers are 5,000 children under the age of 16. more >>
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedomhas urged President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and other U.S. officials to talk about religious freedom and human rights with their Chinese counterparts at the start of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue this week.
"The Administration needs to be a strong voice for the voiceless and vulnerable in China," Katrina Lantos Swett, USCIRF's chair, said in a released statement.
"China's imprisoned dissidents stand peacefully for freedom and the rule of law, but Beijing views them as enemies of the state. These continuing human rights abuses fundamentally are at odds with international legal standards that China is obliged to respect. China's continued repression of dissent and restrictions on religious freedom cannot but affect our hopes of finding common ground between our two countries on other important global concerns." more >>
SANTA ANA, Calif. – Open Doors USA announced Monday that Dr. David Curry has been appointed the new president and CEO of the international ministry that supports and strengthens persecuted Christians in some of the most dangerous countries in the world.
The organization's board of director's made the announcement after a search began last September when Carl Moeller stepped down from the office to take a new position as president and managing partner of a group aimed at fulfilling the global need for strategic alliances between international business and philanthropy. Curry has previously served as CEO of The Rescue Mission in Tacoma, Wash. He will begin his new duties at Open Doors USA on Aug. 1.
"The biggest challenge I think we are going to face is trying to get the American church to understand the scale and the magnitude of persecution around the world their brothers and sisters are facing today," Curry told The Christian Post. "We are so far removed, even with modern technology, from the kinds of punishment and persecution that people are facing in these countries like North Korea, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, and so forth that I'm not sure we can get our minds around it. more >>