Gary Bauer on HR 2431 – Religious Persecution Monitoring

From: (FRC Correspondence)
To: (cecarl)
Date: Tue, 28 Oct 1997 10:49:26 -0700

To “cecarl” at We Hold These Truths:

You have sent 22 emails to Family Research Council in the past five weeks regarding this subject. Gary Bauer has heard from others who disagree with the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act. In response, he has written the following letter:

Dear Friend:

I believe a few Christian and conservative political organizations may misunderstand the scope and authority of the Office of Religious Persecution Monitoring. The director, located in the State Department, will not have any domestic authority. Rather, his focus will be entirely on persecution against religious believers in other countries. Unlike monitoring religions, the director*s responsibly will be solely to monitor this persecution.

Although the legislation modestly increases personnel in the State Department, it does not expand the “scope of the federal government.” Current law provides the executive branch with foreign policy options and guidelines. Congress now appropriates foreign aid money and allows the executive branch broad latitude and discretion on how to spend it. This legislation withholds certain kinds of foreign assistance from countries that persecute people of faith. It is a clear assertion of congressional authority. Accordingly, the administration opposes this bill because the White House views it as congressional usurpation of executive authority.

Throughout American history, our foreign policy has been at its best when it was aligned with morality and principles. In this case, it is clearly appropriate to attach conditions to American taxpayer subsidies given to overseas initiatives. This legislation does not reduce the “authority and responsibility” of Congress, but enhances it. Congress is setting the standards for American foreign subsidies. The executive branch is placed in the position of adhering to these prescribed congressional conditions.

The sanctions outlined in the bill do not affect trade and are thus considered of a punitive nature. Under this legislation, Congress advocates elimination of taxpayer subsidies to violating countries in the form of non-humanitarian aid and some loans. The bill allows for continued humanitarian relief to any country in distress.

I share concerns about the United Nations; however, this bill affirms U.S. authority over its own foreign policy and action. There is no authority ceded to the UN. Again, the religious persecution office will not be given domestic authority. The office will not “monitor religions”; it will monitor international persecution.

While I greatly appreciate the commitment of these other organizations to monitor congressional action, I must differ in my conclusion about the impact of this legislation. I believe that it constitutes a modest step to alleviate the oppression of Christians worldwide. It is noble and worthy for Congress to put American foreign policy on the side of those struggling under persecuting governments and to refuse to subsidize any regime that participates in this persecution.

Our Declaration of Independence states, “All men are created equal [and]. . are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . . [and] among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . .” I believe we should continue to pursue an American foreign policy consistent with these timeless and universal principles. I look forward to continued dialogue and cooperation on the profound issues that confront our nation and the world. Thanks for writing.

Sincerely, Gary L. Bauer
President, Family Research Council