By Meredith Somers
The U.S. should consider economic sanctions on countries where Christians endure persecution, torture and death to help ensure security here and abroad, a religious rights advocate told Congress Tuesday (Feb. 11).
Elliott Abrams of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom said a “case-by-case analysis” could be used in weighing sanctions.
“You look at the list of countries and see so many that are underdeveloped, or middle income or poor,” Mr. Abrams told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on global human rights. “In those cases economic sanctions … could have an affect. I think what we need to convey is … we care, and this will affect our relations.”
“As it often is the first right taken away, religious freedom serves as the proverbial canary in the coal mine, warning us that denial of other liberties almost surely will follow,” he said. “Supporting religious freedom abroad is not just a legal or moral duty, but a practical necessity that affects the security of the United States because it builds a foundation for progress and stability.”
Mr. Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser, also urged the Obama administration to appoint an ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom within the State Department.