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Last month, two religious-freedom advocates debated how best to help those persecuted for their beliefs. Michael Horowitz, director of the Hudson Institute's Project for International Religious Liberty, urged public campaigns and punitive sanctions against repressive regimes. T. Jeremy Gunn, senior fellow for religion and human rights at Emory University, favored quiet diplomacy.

Robert Seiple, former U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom is a critic of the punitive approach. Seiple wrote an essay for ChristianityToday.com in which he contrasted the "public finger pointing" of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and the "quiet diplomacy" of the State Department. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) created both the USCIRF and the ambassador's post. Felice Gaer, chair of the USCIRF, responded to Seiple's article prompting Christianity Today to invite two longtime religious-rights advocates to make their cases.

This article is Horowitz's response to Gunn's original essay. Tomorrow, Gunn responds to Horowitz.

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T. Jeremy Gunn charges me with "blam[ing] … persecutors' actions" on anyone who disagrees with my "polemical approach" to worldwide religious persecution. This he does by citing my view that "quiet diplomacy" supporters "must bear the moral burden of, and responsibility for, the victimized believers who suffer and die on their watch."

Viewed out of context, the statement is as "extreme" as Gunn asserts it to be. But Gunn ignores my central point: that everyone purporting to combat religious persecution—he and I alike—must, "if [we] are any good, anguish over [our] profound moral responsibility for the lives of those [we] seek to help."

Such "polemical" ...

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April 2003

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