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Congress Can Do More to Promote International Religious Freedom says Venn Institute
Contact: Lindsay Vessey,  801-512-1713, Lindsay@venninstitute.org
 
WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today the Venn Institute and the Clapham Group released the mid-term International Religious Freedom (IRF) Scorecard, grading all members of Congress on their prioritization of international religious freedom during the first half of the 113th Congress (2012-2013). Scored items include votes, sponsorship and co-sponsorship of bills and resolutions that support IRF.
 
"While violations of religious freedom continue to occur at an alarming rate around the world, our study found that a startlingly low number of Congressmen and Senators make religious freedom a priority," said Lindsay Vessey, executive director of the Venn Institute. "Promoting religious freedom for all abroad is an American value, and the purpose of this scorecard is to keep members apprised of the opportunities to support international religious freedom. The scorecard brings a measure of accountability and much needed credit to those who are making IRF a priority in their work. Both Republicans and Democrats can do more before this Congress adjourns."
 
Congressional offices were informed which items would be scored throughout the 113th session. Typically, legislators will review items on this scorecard and choose to support more items prior to the final publication, resulting in many higher scores.   The full findings of the scorecard can be found at www.vennaction.org.  
 
Two Senators received A+ grades:
·         Marco Rubio – R (FL)
·         John Cornyn – R (TX)
 
Four Senators received A grades:
·         Roy Blunt – R (MO)
·         John Boozman – R (AR)
·         Dick Durbin – D (IL)
·         James Inhofe – R (OK)
 
One Representative received an A+ score:
·         Frank Wolf – R (VA)
 
One Representative received an A score:
·         Trent Franks – R (AZ)
 
"The need to protect and promote religious freedom is more urgent now than ever," said Vessey.  "I am hopeful that additional, important scored items will be moved to a vote before the end of the 113th session."
 
Two key achievements in the 113th session that the Venn Institute supported include:
 
·         Passage of House Resolution 301, which provides for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia, by overwhelming bi-partisan support. Senator Mike Lee (UT) and Senator Tom Coburn (OK) both have placed holds on the Senate version, S. 653, preventing it from going to a vote in the Senate.

·         The unanimous passage of Senate Resolution 75, which condemns the government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights
 
There are currently 64 members of the House International Religious Freedom Caucus and 16 members of the House Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus. The Senate does not currently have any formal entity to organize their efforts to promote international religious freedom.
 
A final scorecard for the 113th session will be published in the first quarter of 2015. 
 
The International Religious Freedom Scorecard is an educational tool and does not support or endorse specific legislators, parties or candidates.
 
Venn Action is the political action arm of Venn Institute and seeks to promote and protect the fundamental right to full religious freedom for individuals worldwide, as guaranteed under Article 18 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights, through political action and pressure.
 
Venn Institute is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote and protect the fundamental right to full religious freedom for individuals worldwide as guaranteed under Article 18 of the U.N. Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
 
For media inquiries or additional information, contact Lindsay Vessey at 801-512-1713 or lindsay@venninstitute.org.