DAILY CATHOLIC MONDAY October 12, 1998 vol. 9, no. 199
NEWS & VIEWS
SENATE PASSES RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION BILL
WASHINGTON, DC (CWNews.com) - The US Senate passed a measure on Friday that would require the president to take action against countries that engage in a pattern of religious persecution.
The Senate bill, similar to a bill already passed by the House, was approved 98-0. The measure creates a federal office responsible for monitoring treatment of believers in certain countries, and then requires the president to choose from a list of options to take against the countries, unless it is not in the national interests of the United States.
"Our purpose is not to punish any country," said Sen. Don Nickles, R-Oklahoma, the bill's sponsor. "Our goal is to change behavior." Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, added: "We have seen worldwide unspeakable religious persecution. We have seen Catholic clerics mistreated and tortured in China, we have seen Christians sold into slavery in the Sudan, we have seen the risk of the death penalty in Egypt and in Saudi Arabia (for) those of the Islam faith who seek to convert to Christianity."
Under the bill, a 10-member commission appointed by
Congress and the president would investigate incidents of
suspected religious persecution and make policy
recommendations. Sanctions available to the president under
the bill include: public condemnation; the cancellation of
scientific or cultural exchanges; cancellation of state
visits; the withdrawal, limitation or suspension of some
forms of US aid; directing the US members of international
financial institutions to vote against loans benefiting
countries engaging in religious persecution; and other
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS