Save the Persecuted Christians: USCIRF’s New Freedom of Religion or Belief Victims List Will Give Names to Nameless, Hold Persecutors Accountable
October 9, 2019
WASHINGTON—The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) yesterday announced the launch of the new “Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) Victims List,” which is contained in a public online database.
Save the Persecuted Christians, which advocates on behalf of 300 million Christians facing heavy persecution worldwide, praised the introduction of the list.
“The USCIRF database promises to be a thorn in the side of persecutors the world over,” said Dede Laugesen, executive director of Save the Persecuted Christians. “We thank the commission for providing this invaluable tool and pray it works to reveal the plight of millions of otherwise nameless victims in the global war on religious liberty. We will reach out to our coalition partners for recommendations to add to the list.”
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA), as amended by the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016, requires USCIRF to “make publicly available to the extent practicable … lists of persons [USCIRF] determines as imprisoned or detained, have disappeared, been placed under house arrest, been tortured, or subjected to forced renunciations of faith for their religious activity or religious freedom advocacy…”
Wolf is a member of the Save the Persecuted Christians advisory board and remains active in the advocacy of persecuted Christians worldwide.
The FoRB Victims List was publicly unveiled yesterday at the International Religious Freedom Roundtable on Capitol Hill, where USCIRF Chair Tony Perkins said, “We are thrilled to debut the FoRB Victims List. One of our hopes for this project is to work collaboratively to build and maintain a robust FoRB victims database that increases awareness of the grave plight of victims of religious freedom violations.”
According to a USCIRF news release, “IRFA stipulates that the FoRB Victims List include those victims from countries that it recommends for Country of Particular Concern—or CPC—designation and entities that it recommends for Entities of Particular Concern—or EPC—designation. The Commission is focusing first on countries recommended for CPC status, but will eventually also include victims targeted by entities that USCIRF has recommended for EPC status. The cases within this database should be viewed as indicative of the violations practiced by the governments or non-state actors, not as exhaustive or representative lists of total victims or a reflection of worldwide trends.”
The FoRB Victims List is immediately available to browse and can be found here. Additionally, USCIRF encourages the public to utilize the Victims Intake Form to submit information about victims who should be included. A link to this intake form is on the footer of each page of the database, titled “Submit Victim Information,” or it can be accessed here.
Laugesen added it is imperative that Congress reauthorize USCIRF, which accomplishes important work for persecuted believers worldwide.
To that end, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) have introduced the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Act of 2019 (USCIRF). Among other things, the bill reauthorizes USCIRF for four years and increases authorized appropriations.
“As religious freedom is under assault worldwide, I’m proud to lead this bipartisan effort to ensure that advancing the right to freely exercise one’s religion and belief according to one’s conscience remains a priority of the U.S.,” Rubio said. “USCIRF plays an important role in highlighting religious freedom violations and advancing religious liberty around the globe, including by providing key recommendations to Congress. I look forward to seeing this Commission reauthorized and fulling its important mission.”
For believers around the world, Save the Persecuted Christians seeks to bring awareness about targeted Christians through the “The People of the Cross” exhibit, a series of vertical traveling banners that details Christian persecution in various countries around the world.
The exhibit’s banners feature images, facts and quotes from recent news stories about the persecution of Christians in multiple countries, such as North Korea, where Christians are tortured or worse; Syria, where Christian girls and women have been sold into sex slavery; Nigeria and East Africa, where terrorists are exterminating Christians with genocidal intent; and China, where Communists are increasingly hostile to people of faith and churches are demolished. A majority of the countries highlighted in the banners are high on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List.
“The People of the Cross” exhibit tours the United States, reaching an audience to date of at least 50,000, and is available for churches, public venues and special events. This exhibit has been joined by another, “Warfare on Women,” released during the 2019 U.S. Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, which reveals the specific terror-tactic used to demean and degrade female believers to instill fear into the heart of Christian communities. To learn more about hosting a traveling exhibit contact Save the Persecuted Christians or visit the website, where panels are available to view online.
The mission of Save the Persecuted Christians is to save lives and save souls by disseminating actionable information about the magnitude of the persecution taking place globally and by mobilizing concerned Americans for the purpose of disincentivizing further attacks on those who follow Jesus.
According to Aid to the Church in Need’s biannual report on Religious Freedom in the World, over 300 million Christians experience persecution. According to Open Doors USA World Watch List, 245 million Christians are victims of high to extreme levels of persecution (i.e., torture, rape, sex-slavery, expulsion, murder and genocide), an increase of 14 percent over 2018. Open Doors also estimates 1 in 9 of the world’s Christians experience persecution and that every month: 345 Christians are killed, often in public and without regard to gender or age; 219 Christians are abducted and imprisoned indefinitely without trial; and 106 churches are demolished.
Save the Persecuted Christians has developed a dedicated news aggregator—ChristianPersecutionNews.com—to capture current instances of persecution and to provide readers with an easy way to share these heartbreaking stories with others. Stories are categorized and resource reports are easily accessible.
With so much of the world’s Christian population being attacked, imprisoned and/or exiled for their beliefs, the need has never been greater for the sort of grassroots campaign STPC’s SaveUs Movement is working to foster. Its efforts are modeled after a miraculously successful one that helped free another population suffering from heavy persecution—Soviet Jews—by penalizing those in the Kremlin responsible for such repression. Through this movement, Save the Persecuted Christians endeavors to provide American policymakers with the popular support they need to effect real change worldwide and alleviate systemically the suffering being experienced by so many of those following Christ.
To interview a Save the Persecuted Christians representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.