USCIRF

United States Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was created by United States Government in 1998 by the then US President Bill Clinton. As per it’s website, USCIRF is “an independent, bi-partisan US Federal Government Commission dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. The Commission also makes policy recommendations to the President, The Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leadership of both political parties”.

USCIRF have been publishing Annual Reports on India since 2003. Their main area of concern have been India’s anti-conversion laws enacted in various states. Anti-conversion laws affect Christian evangelicals the most. USCIRF has been quiet over evangelicals misusing Indian visas to spread and promote Christianity in India. USCIRF has never expressed concern on deteriorating human right violations on Hindu and Sikh girls in Pakistan or on the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus in 1990 and their continued human rights violations. USCIRF expressing concern over India’s Citizenship Amendment Act said:

the legislation used religion as a legal criterion to grant citizenship and is a dangerous turn in the wrong direction. It runs counter to India’s rich history of secular pluralism and the Indian Constitution, which guarantees equality before the law regardless of faith

USCIRF

The commission had also suggested that the Department of State impose “targeted sanctions” against Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act which according to USCIRF violates religious freedom. The sanctions proposed by the commission included the freezing of the assets of officials involved in such acts, or barring their entry into the United States. In their Annual Report for 2020 USCIRF categorising India as ‘Country of Particular Concern’ (CPC) said:

the country was engaging in tolerating systematic, ongoing and egregious, religious freedom violations.

USCIRF Annual Report 2020

While accusing the Indian government of allowing violence against minorities and their houses of worship to continue with impunity, and also engaging in and tolerating hate speech and incitement to violence, USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza said:

India had seen perhaps the steepest, and most alarming, deterioration in religious freedom in the past year.…….this move by the Hindu nationalist government of India was both startling and disturbing and could potentially leave millions of Muslims in India vulnerable to detention, deportation, and statelessness.

USCIRF Vice Chair Nadine Maenza

In it’s 20+ years existence, USCIRF Commissioners have been Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, Reverends, Christian Ministers, Pastors, Jesuit Priests, Christian activists, Board Members of various Churches, Board members of various Catholic Associations, Presidents of Evangelical organisations, Ambassadors of Christian conversion groups, Professors with links to the Vatican, Presidents of World Vision, contributors and editors to Christian magazines like Christian Post, Christianity Today, and George Soros’ Open Society Fellowship winners.

In December 2019, former USCIRF Commissioner, Ahmad “Andy” Khawaja was indicted in conspiring to conceal conduit and excessive campaign contributions to the tune of USD$3.5 million.

Present Commissioners:

Chair- Gayle Manchin: Career educator, wife of former Governor and current US Senator Joe Manchin, Board of Trustee, Bethany College (liberal arts college, having an on-going relationship with Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)).

Vice-Chair – Tony Perkins: Ordained Minister, Southern Baptist, Board member-Caring to Love Ministries, President-Family Research Council, Christian Conservative policy and lobby organisation, termed Yoga as “goofy”, opposed Hindu prayer before US Senate saying:

There is no historic connection between America and the polytheistic creed of the Hindu faith.

Tony Perkins

Vice Chair – Arunima Bhargava: Open Society Fellowship winner 2016, Civil Rights activist, Indian-American, Member-Council of Foreign Relations.

Commissioner – James W.Carr: Board Member-Herald of Truth Ministries, Board of Directors-World Christian Broadcasting

Commissioner – Gary L. Bauer: Baptist, Founder-Family Research Council, President-Focus on the Family both Conservative Christian Organisations, former Washington Director- Christians United for Israel.

Commissioner – Fredrick A.Davie: Executive Vice President-Union Theological Seminary, Board Member-Interfaith Youth Core, Former Programme Officer-Ford Foundation

Commissioner – Nadine Maenza: Former Vice Chair, USCIRF, Executive Director Patriot Voices, Ex-Chairman Hardwired Global, also regular contributor for The Hill, The Christian Post, The Daily Signal, Inter Press Service, The Globe Post

Commissioner – Johnnie Moore: Reverend, Evangelical, President-The Congress of Christian Leaders

Commissioner – Nury Turkel: Uyghur Human Rights activist, Attorney, Chairman- Uyghur Human Rights Project