June 17, 2019 - Monday
The Persecuted Find a Voice in USCIRF
Thanks to President Trump, America has spent the better part of the last three years finding its voice on behalf of the world's persecuted. I've been proud to play a small part in that, serving as a member of the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Earlier this morning, I'm pleased to announce that I've been elected chairman of the bipartisan commission for the 2019-2020 term -- a responsibility that I can assure you I don't take lightly.
As some of you know from things I've shared over the past year, the commission came about as part of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act and is tasked with tracking religious freedom violations and making policy recommendations to the president, secretary of state, and Congress. Most people are familiar with USCIRF because of the annual "watch list" it puts together on countries that pose a particular threat to people of faith.
I've had the opportunity during my time on the commission of raising these concerns with foreign leaders, including King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the UAE's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and numerous foreign ambassadors. Then, of course, I had the true honor, after months of praying for his release, of escorting Pastor Andrew Brunson home from Turkey after years of being separated from his family. In my new role as chairman, which is a volunteer role, I'll continue to advocate for prisoners like Pastor Brunson and the plight of religious minorities all across the world -- while still serving as FRC's president.
I want to thank my fellow commissioners for entrusting me with guiding the commission. It's a privilege to work with this diverse group of dedicated professionals on such an important issue at such a historic moment when we have an administration so deeply committed to protecting and promoting religious freedom. I look forward to capitalizing on this moment and advance this fundamental human right for all people.