Guest / Limited Access /

The question came during a meeting of the newly formed U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). The Commission had been established by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, and now, in its early stages, was feeling out the best way to pursue its congressional mandate. As discussion came around to the Commission's approach, one of the commissioners posed the question, "Are we to light a candle or curse the darkness? I assume we are to curse the darkness . …" No one questioned the answer. This was a critical moment, in which a corporate identity was being formed and the raison d'être of the Commission was being articulated. It was a critical moment — and cursing the darkness carried the day.

The Commission recently recommended to the Secretary of State that the U.S. designate 12 "countries of particular concern" under the 1998 act. Among these was the small, southeast Asian nation of Laos. The Commission's unjustifiable decision to recommend the censure of Laos is yet another chapter in its misguided agenda that emphasizes the punishment of religious persecution over the promotion of religious freedom.

This emphasis has it roots in the Commission's founding legislation, the contentious 1998 act — 18 months in the making — that established a State Department office and an annual report to Congress, along with a commission to provide oversight and independent recommendations to the President. The initial House version placed emphasis on punishing the offending nations. The Senate version shifted that emphasis to promoting this universal right, a shift that ultimately prevailed.

But why the quick acquiescence to "cursing the darkness" by the Commission? Very simply, the crafters of the 1998 legislation ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueThe Other 'Christianity Today'
Subscriber Access Only The Other 'Christianity Today'
Learning from our fundamentalist predecessor.
RecommendedThe First Country to Officially Defend Christians Persecuted by ISIS
The First Country to Officially Defend Christians Persecuted by ISIS
Hungary has drawn criticism for favoring Christian over Muslim refugees from Syria and Iraq.
TrendingResearch Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
Research Says: Young People Don't Want Hip Pastors
A study of 250 congregations suggests that youth and young adults want substance rather than style.
Editor's PickRandy Alcorn: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place
Randy Alcorn: God Wants You to Find Your Happy Place
Why happiness and holiness don’t have to be in conflict.
Christianity Today
The USCIRF Is Only Cursing the Darkness
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

October 2002

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.