Faith Leaders Urged to Tackle Human Rights Issues at National Prayer Breakfast

Washington, D.C. – As leaders from around the globe convene in Washington this week for the annual National Prayer Breakfast hosted by the U.S. Congress and organized by The Fellowship Foundation, Human Rights First urges participants – including faith leaders from a broad range of religious views – to speak out on human rights issues under consideration in Washington today. Among the topics participants should address are U.S. protections for refugees and efforts beyond U.S. borders to marginalize and criminalize the LGBT community.

“The United States has long been a beacon of hope for oppressed people who yearn to live in freedom, and has an historic commitment to refugees who have fled religious, political, ethnic, and other persecution. As Congress undertakes a serious immigration reform package now, it can seize an opportunity to strengthen a system that protects the most vulnerable and the persecuted, including those fleeing religious intolerance in places like Central America, China, the Middle East, and Russia,” said Human Rights First’s Robyn Lieberman.  ”We call on the faith leaders to voice their expectation for a world in which religious practice is free and safe, and we call on the Americans in particular to affirm their support for an improved U.S. asylum system that protects those who must flee religious and other persecution.”

Human Rights First is concerned that sweeping reforms of border enforcement protocols, designed to weed out fraud and abuse, will have the unintended effect of denying bona fide refugees the right to a hearing of their case.  Human Rights First has advocated for specific protections, such as elimination of the filing deadline and increased personnel in the immigration courts, to strengthen the asylum system as part of immigration reform.  The leaders at the Prayer Breakfast have an opportunity to support faith leaders like Dr. Richard Land in their tireless work for these reforms.

The organization also notes that is also a dangerous time for LGBT people in many parts of the world today, especially in parts of the Caribbean and Central America, Russia, and parts of Africa. Many are fleeing persecution.

”There is a disturbing trend in legislation, most recently in Nigeria and Uganda, that in vague and broadly-worded terms targets LGBT people and those who promote the protection of their rights and human dignity, stripping them of their basic rights,” said Lieberman.  ”Furthermore, these laws contribute to an environment in which LGBT people are beaten, attacked, and sometimes killed with impunity.  Regardless of one’s views on homosexuality, people of faith should agree that no one should be violently abused because of who they are.  We need to hear from faith leaders around the world that persecution and violence directed toward LGBT people are unacceptable. The Prayer Breakfast is a most appropriate time to assert such leadership.”

“The National Prayer Breakfast reminds us all that people of all backgrounds can come together to confront injustice and hate,” said Lieberman. “We hope the participants will address these issues as they reflect on the coming year.”


Published on February 5, 2014


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