Guest / Limited Access /

As Chris Seiple sees it, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has operated with a lamentable approach: "name, blame, and shame foreign governments."

That approach, in the president of the Institute for Global Engagement's view, has kept the taxpayer-funded commission from making as big a contribution to the cause of religious freedom worldwide as it might have otherwise.

In a time of budget cutbacks, Seiple said he understands why some USCIRF critics advocate eliminating the independent commission—and its $4 million a year in federal funding. The office is preparing to shut down next Friday unless Congress passes a measure. After all, a separate federal Office of International Religious Freedom (IRF) already exists at the State Department.

"[But] if you eliminate USCIRF, you send a terrible signal internationally that we are less concerned about religious freedom," he said. That's especially true, he said, given that the position of ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom—first filled by his father Robert Seiple—went unfilled for two years before Suzan Johnson Cook assumed her duties in May 2011.

Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, offers a more positive assessment of USCIRF.

Farr believes USCIRF has made excellent policy recommendations ("many of them duly ignored by the State Department") and provided oversight of the United State's "failure to pursue an aggressive IRF policy."

But like Seiple, Farr points to the international ramifications of failing to extend the life of USCIRF.

"It is reasonably clear to the persecutors … that advancing religious freedom ...

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

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

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedUnder DeVos, the Real School Choice Christians Face
Under DeVos, the Real School Choice Christians Face
The future of public education will depend on the church.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickUrban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Urban Mix-and-Match Religion Didn't Start with Nick Cannon
Why this 'new spirituality' is really just old-fashioned syncretism.
Christianity Today
As USCIRF Faces Possible Closure, Funding Divides Religious Freedom ...
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2012

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