One-third of Congress again received “above average” scores on global religious liberty, according to an analysis of the latest session.
The International Religious Freedom Congressional Scorecard showed the 115th Congress (2017-2018) had the same percentage of members who scored “above average” as did the 114th Congress (2015-2016). The 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative (21Wilberforce) issued the scorecard in July and is now in the process of distributing it to members of Congress.
In its scorecard, 21Wilberforce gave A or A+ grades to 48 congressional members, 31 Democrats and 17 Republicans. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., gained the highest scores in their respective chambers.
Distribution of the scorecard comes as religious repression appears to be on the rise globally despite efforts by the legislative and executive branches of the United States government to promote freedom of belief and conscience overseas.
A Pew Research Center report issued in July showed “high” or “very high” restrictions on religion by 52 governments, an increase of 12 in the decade covered from 2007 to 2017. It also found the countries with the highest levels of social hostilities involving religion grew from 39 to 56 in the same period.
Religious freedom advocates commended 21Wilberforce’s project.
The scorecard is “a critically important initiative,” said Nina Shea, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, in a statement included in the scorecard. “We’re seeing the greatest peril posed to religious freedom since the rise of Nazism and communism.”
21Wilberforce’s scorecard “has an incredibly important story to tell,” said Katrina Lantos Swett, president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice, in comments in the scorecard. “As religious freedom abuses have proliferated around the world, America’s efforts to advocate for this bedrock human right have not kept pace. This is information we need to know so that all of us can better protect the conscience rights of people across the globe.”
The scorecard is “a tool to promote this universal and fundamental freedom” and to monitor Congress’ efforts “in standing up for oppressed religious minorities in every part of the world,” said Lou Ann Sabatier, 21Wilberforce’s director of communications.
“In fairness to members of Congress, if they don’t hear from the voters, they may not think their voters care,” Sabatier told Baptist Press in written remarks. “The scorecard allows people in members’ districts to understand what is happening in Congress and to encourage and to thank members of Congress who support religious freedom legislation. It also educates members and gives them the opportunity to be proactive by authorizing, co-sponsoring and ultimately passing bills that support the concerns of their constituents.”
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Source: Baptist Press