Six Congressional Members Urge Stronger Action to Protect Religious Liberty

Six Congressional Members Urge Stronger Action to Protect Religious Liberty


Six Congressional members urge stronger action to protect religious liberty

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Six members of Congress stressed the need for the U.S. government to take a more vigorously active role in protecting endangered Christians in the Holy Lands and the Middle East.

Four representatives and two senators spoke Tuesday at the Third International Conference on Religious Freedom in the nation’s capital, sponsored by the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The speakers were Representatives Chris Smith, R-New Jersey; Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska; Carolyn Maloney, D-New York; Gus Bilirakis, R-Florida, and Senators Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, and James Lankford, R-Oklahoma. The sessions were held in the U.S. Senate Caucus Room and Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium.

“More than ever before, vigorous U.S. leadership and diplomacy are needed to address religious freedom violations in the region (Middle East and Holy Lands) and globally,” Rep. Smith said.

He also urged “enhanced religious freedom training for the Foreign Service including ambassadors and integrating religious freedom into every aspect of U.S. foreign policy.”

Smith recommended a timely designation of a “country of particular concern” as well as designation of an “entity of concern,” such as a terrorist group. He also urged the meting out of sanctions on designated countries and holding not just countries but also individuals accountable.

Rep. Maloney emphasized that religious persecution “is happening all over the world,” adding that there is a need to create a system to accurately track everything happening to Christian minorities and other religions.

“We need to put more meat in legislation,” she added, such as no aid to Egypt unless they let Christians rebuild their churches.

Maloney has advocated for reform in Turkey such as the reopening of Halki – the Greek Orthodox Christian theological school the Turkish government closed in 1971.

“Look at countries that respect minorities, religion and women – they don’t have terrorism,” Maloney added.

Rep. Biilirakis emphasized the need to “speak out. Our darkest moments have come when those who know better stood still. We must fight to protect Christians all over the world.”

He said the United States must “stand up” to our so-called allies, recommending this country appoint an ambassador-at-large for international religion freedom.

Rep. Fortenberry said that attacks on Christians are not only a loss of life, but are a disabling factor in the Middle East.

“What has happened is genocide,” he emphasized. “What needs to be done is resurrection, revitalization and repatriation”

Sen. Cardin stressed the need to protect religious targets because “what we see in the Middle East is unacceptable. If we don’t take any action, we condone that activity. The United States must take the leadership. Those committing atrocities should not get a pass.”

The senator pledged his commitment to protect Christian minorities in the Middle East and elsewhere. “You have my word,” he said.

Sen. Lankford urged that we speak out clearly for those who are unjustly attacked.

“More and more places in the world have less freedom,” he noted. “Blasphemy laws are being adopted in the world. We should not freely trade with a country that doesn’t recognize religious liberty.”

While emphasizing that there is much work to be done, the senator also urged that we “don’t lose hope.”

The members of Congress were not the only participants to urge work on behalf of embattled Christians worldwide.

Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese ofAmerica, attacked the “crime” of killing someone in the name of religion. “There is not a bigger atrocity than that.”

And Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, national commander of the Archons in America, said, “Let’s hope our work spreads the light of religious freedom around the world.  Our discussions are to bring the light of truth and expose the darkness.”



Orthodox Christian Network (OCN) is a 501(c)3 and an official agency of the Assembly of Canonical Bishops of the United States of America . It is a recognized leader in the Orthodox Media field and has sustained consistent growth over twenty-two years. We have worked to create a community for both believers and non believers alike by sharing the timeless faith of Orthodoxy with the contemporary world through modern media. We are on a mission to inspire Orthodox Christians Worldwide. We have reached 5.7 Million People in One Week and we want to reach millions more!  Signup to receive our newsletter email:

Do you find it hard to keep focused on Christ when you’re on the go? OCN makes it easy! You can be inspired daily by the OCN programming from where ever you are by plugging into our ListenReadWatch Worship.  To learn more about emerging Orthodox leaders in our Community check out OCN 30 Under 30 Initiative.  It is an opportunity to show support for and invest in this next generation of trailblazers.

Much like public radio, the Orthodox Christian Network relies on the support of our listeners, readers, volunteers, and fans. If you are interested in supporting our work, you can send your sustaining gift by direct mail, over the phone, or on our website. Your gift will ensure the continued growth of this encouraging Orthodox Community by providing faith-building, free, high-quality programming. Give today to help you and your Orthodox community stay connected no matter the location.

donate now


Click here to download the Spark OCN and Orthodox Prayer Book.

Posted by the Orthodox Christian Network. OCN is on Social Media! Follow us on TwitterFacebookYouTube, Google+, PinterestLinkedIn and Instagram

About author

Orthodox Christian News

Orthodox Christian Network brings you news of events and people important to the life of the Orthodox Church around the world. OCN highlights media organizations that track these important stories.