International Institute for Religious Freedom

The Origins And Legacy of The Movement to Fight Religious Persecution

Ten years ago, over a dozen elderly Catholic bishops and priests were in laogai prison camps and detention centers in China, and entire congregations of house church Evangelicals there were being arrested and their pastors tortured.


In southern Sudan, the extremist Islamist government in Khartoum was supporting slave raids, aerial bombardments, and massacres in the reed tukel villages of Christians and followers of traditional African religions in an attempt to impose shari’a rule. With such reports in mind, a core group of activists, Members of Congress, and religious leaders came together and lit a prairie fire—a national, interfaith, grassroots mobilization for legislation to elevate and institutionalize concern for religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy.