New resolution moves U.S. to defend international religious freedom

By August 2, 2019

USA (MNN) — Last week, the United States Congress was introduced to a bi-partisan resolution condemning international apostasy and blasphemy laws and supporting international religious freedom. The House Resolution 512 (HR 512) encourages the State Department and the President of the United States to protect international religious freedom.

HR 512 and Religious Freedom

Ahmed’s bloody shirt from an attack in court at a blasphemy trial in Pakistan on April 2018. (Photo courtesy of FMI)

FMI works with Christians who live under blasphemy laws in the three largest Muslim-dominate nations of the world: Pakistan, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.

FMI’s Bruce Allen defines apostasy as the “conversion experience of a person from one faith to another faith” and defines blasphemy as “speaking against what a particular group would say is sacred”.

According to Allen, if implemented, HR 512 is a way for the U.S. to essentially say, “we will look at your laws that you have on your books and on your penal codes as a compass that will help serve how we deal with you”.

Ironically, while the U.S. does not have apostasy or blasphemy laws on the federal level, these laws can be found on a state level. However, HR 512 does not focus on domestic religious freedom laws.

Still, the resolution could allow the U.S. to designate countries with these national laws as countries of particular concern (CPC). This could then influence how the U.S. shapes policies with regards to the CPC list.

Chairperson Tony Perkins of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has applauded this resolution. The USCIRF, an arm of the U.S. State Department, provides an annual report suggesting nations for CPC designation.

Challenges to International Relations

The resolution could muddy the waters for international trade. Countries like Greece, New Zealand, Malta, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Canada have already made moves to repeal their blasphemy laws. However, there are 70 countries around the world which still have blasphemy and apostasy laws in place.

“Think of a place like Saudi Arabia. We’re considering selling military equipment and arms to them, and yet, they’re one of the main violators of this, as well as some other countries,” Allen notes.

Moving forward, Allen urges believers to let their elected officials know HR 512 is important to them.  Take time to affirm what the USCIRF has done by encouraging elected officials to keep blasphemy and apostasy laws in the spotlight.

Another important way Christians can respond is through prayer.

How To Pray

Pray nations around the world will amend and repeal their apostasy and blasphemy laws. Ask God to bring release for those who are unjustly imprisoned under these laws. Pray against vigilante-style riot attacks against perceived violators of these laws, especially Christians facing persecution.

religious freedom

Propaganda condemning Asia Bibi, a Christian charged with blasphemy in Pakistan. According to FMI, images like these appeared across Pakistan in early 2019. (Graphic courtesy of FMI)

Also pray for Christians accused of blasphemy and apostasy to continue growing in their faith, perseverance, and joy in the Lord, as James 1:2 and 1 Peter 1:6-7 urges.

“They’re going through some really difficult circumstances. Their lives are on the line, their property, their families. It’s a mess. But we need to pray that they would recognize the joy of suffering for the name of Christ and that they would not seek vengeance against their enemies, but instead learn to love their oppressors,” Allen says.

“That’s a major prayer and a huge miracle when we see that happening in the lives of persecuted Christians around the world.”



Header photo courtesy of FMI.

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