International Religious Freedom

by Jared Feldman

Background

Having been the quintessential victims of religious persecution over the centuries, Jews know what happens when good people silently stand by in the face of discrimination and oppression of others.  Jewish tradition teaches that in every generation we are obligated to view ourselves as if each of us had been personally brought forth out of Egypt.  This instruction serves as a call for the Jewish people to rise up against slavery and tyranny in our own time. 

 

We are therefore committed to protecting religious freedom by raising awareness about and speaking out against religious persecution wherever it exists.  The Jewish community was successful in the Soviet Jewry campaign because non-Jews rallied to our cause and the U.S. led other governments to weigh in.  We can do no less for those persecuted today.  With the support and commitment of the United States, Canada, and other governments, we can be successful.

 

In 1998, the United States enacted the International Religious Freedom Act, establishing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (CIRF).  The concerns regarding religious liberty expressed in the International Religious Freedom Act echo the ideas articulated in international agreements and declarations such as the United Nations’ 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1976 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Despite these agreements, religious freedom is under attack all over the world.  The CIRF has identified twenty-two countries whose policies and practices have generated concern about systemic violations of religious freedom. 

 

The JCPA Therefore Resolves to:

  1. Call upon the governments of the world to:
    1. End all persecution on the basis of religious beliefs or practices;
    2. Ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and abide by the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and
    3. Hold themselves and other governments to commitments arising from their ratification of international agreements as they apply to religious freedoms; without the creation of exceptions
  2. Call upon the United States government to support religious freedom around the world and take appropriate action when there are violations of religious freedom; and
  3. Call upon the United States government to implement the recommendations of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, including but not limited to:
    1. Engaging in high-level dialogue with foreign governments aimed at addressing religious persecution;
    2. Facilitating reform in countries that restrict religious freedom by providing training for lawyers, lawmakers, and judges;
    3. Encouraging other governments to ratify agreements to uphold religious freedom and other human rights, and holding participating governments to commitments made by their ratification of international agreements;
    4. Placing sanctions on foreign governments when ongoing systemic persecution persists;
    5. Enhancing the training of foreign service officers and U.S. Administration and legislative officials about the role of religion in the world’s varied societies and the problems of religious persecution; and
  1. Supporting and cooperating with organizations and coalitions working for religious freedom, and providing humanitarian and legal support to victims of religious persecution.

About the Author


Jared Feldman