July 10, 2018
Earlier today, I took off my FRC hat and put on my U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom hat for my first official event. Today was the annual gathering of Vietnamese Boat People on Capitol Hill where they advocate for religious freedom and human rights issues in Vietnam. I could not think of a better group to speak with in my inaugural USCIRF presentation.
This morning, I shared with them that I have a sincere appreciation for those who've come to the United States from Vietnam, like my friend Pastor Khanh Huyhn, especially since they are teaching those born in America the value and importance of religious freedom. Pastor Huyhn was one of the Houston Five pastors whose sermons were subpoenaed by the former mayor of Houston Annise Parker. Warning other pastors of where such government overreach could lead, Pastor Huyhn has joined me in a number of efforts including promoting the Free Speech Fairness Act, which would repeal the Johnson Amendment.
The government of Vietnam, along with non-state actors have been engaged in systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom. They have imprisoned, intimidated and interfered in the religious practices of Christians, Buddhists, Caodaists, and others. These actions not only violate our sensibilities as Americans, they violate the very international covenants on human rights and religious freedom that Vietnam is a signatory to. Based on the facts, USCIRF is recommending the U.S. State Department should identify Vietnam as a "Country of Particular Concern" (CPC). A CPC designation will put into place several diplomatic and economic provisions designed to pressure Vietnam to correct its abusive religious freedom practices.
Religious freedom is the foundation for all other freedoms -- without it no other freedom will stand. For that reason, you and I must do all that we can to promote religious both here and abroad.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.