Calling for Global Repeal of Blasphemy, Heresy, and Apostasy Laws
Mr. Speaker, the right to practice one's faith is the most fundamental freedom there is. There is a reason our Founding Fathers made it the First Amendment: Our Founders understood that someone's right to worship was sacred and should belong to all people regardless of their faith.
If religious freedom is taken away, all other freedoms are subject to being taken away also. It is just that simple.
Unfortunately, religious freedom still does not exist everywhere. Today, religious minorities are persecuted all over the globe.
According to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, about one-third of the countries around the world still have laws against blasphemy. In many dictatorships, people are not allowed to worship anything but the state. To do so would be seen as a threat to the government because they do not recognize a higher power.
As a result, religious minorities are targeted in some countries with severe brutality. People are being beaten, arrested, and tortured. Houses of worship are razed and destroyed. In countries like Iran, Pakistan, and others, ascribing to a different religion could mean the death penalty. In other places, it can mean forced labor or a public whipping.
This is simply unacceptable. Today, the House has an opportunity to stand up for religious freedom around the world.
This is an important resolution. This resolution makes the repeal of blasphemy, heresy, and apostasy laws a priority everywhere. It designates countries that enforce such laws as countries of particular concern for religious freedom and calls on all governments to release religious prisoners of conscience.
The United States has always been a leader when it comes to religious freedom. Today, we have a chance to lead again and to tell the world that we will not stand for religious intolerance.
Mr. Speaker, I urge all my colleagues to support H. Res. 512, and I yield back the balance of my time.
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