Our Battle against Religious Persecution Is Floundering

Rep. Frank Wolf, human rights champion, calls on evangelicals to intensify the fight for religious liberty.
Our Battle against Religious Persecution Is Floundering
Image: ENOUGH Project / Flickr
Rep. Frank Wolf with citizen journalist Ryan Boyette, interviewing a Nuban woman refugee in the Yida camp, Unity State, South Sudan.

After 34 years in Congress, Frank Wolf, the renowned gadfly for human rights and religious liberty, retires in January. But this 75-year-old won’t be browsing Golfsmith for clubs. He’s more likely to fly back to East Africa, where witnessing severe famine in Ethiopia changed the course of his life in the early 1980s.

As co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, Wolf has traveled the world’s hot spots; adopted Gao Zhisheng, the dissident lawyer from China; criticized the State Department’s inattention to human rights; and fought to end to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

Wolf’s signature achievement in Congress was the passage of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act, which created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and established the International Religious Freedom Office at the State Department, including its ambassador-at-large. This was a critical step forward in establishing religious freedom as a priority in US foreign policy.

Admired by conservatives, Wolf’s voting record in Congress gained a 100 percent rating by the National Right to Life. But he received a 0 percent from the American Civil Liberties Union. He voted to defund Planned Parenthood, and voted against gay marriage and legalized gambling.

The Virginia Republican, who represents wealthy Loudoun and Fairfax counties, believes there are competent insiders in Congress to take the religious liberty baton forward. But he agrees with many experts that religious freedom is declining worldwide.

Wolf calls on evangelical leaders to step up their game for human rights among all at-risk faith groups—Christian, Jewish, Islamic minorities, Bahá’í, and others. ...

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