A report on violations of religious freedom around the world is scheduled to be presented to the UN Commission on Human Rights this month. It is the result of an assessment by Portuguese lawyer and human rights specialist Angelo Vidal d’Almeida Ribeiro. He was appointed by the UN commission early last year to examine incidents of discrimination and to recommend ways to address them.

In December, Ribeiro visited the United States to meet with a cross section of human rights advocates. The U.S. visit was sponsored by an Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Freedom, consisting of Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, evangelical, and mainline Protestant leaders. Committee members arranged Ribeiro’s schedule in New York, Washington, and Chicago.

Entering The Debate

Richard Cizik, the National Association of Evangelicals’ Washington research director, told Ribeiro that evangelicalism encompasses a large number of Christians who are concerned about human rights. But they are not represented by a large church bureaucracy in Geneva, Switzerland, where Ribeiro is based. Cizik said Ribeiro encouraged evangelicals to write to him directly with their concerns about abuses of religious freedom overseas.

Cizik said gaining entry to UN debate on religious liberty will require evangelicals to “develop internal, behind-the-scenes contacts” with the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. “For the evangelical church to communicate the gospel in its fullest sense,” he said, “we need to attempt to build bridges that haven’t existed before.”

Wade Coggins, executive director of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, said evangelical attitudes regarding threats to human rights abroad have changed. ...

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