Washington D.C., Dec 17, 2011 / 05:34 am
A U.S. federal commission that works to support religious freedom around the world was reauthorized Dec. 16 by Congress through 2018, just hours before it was scheduled to go out of existence.
In a statement after the U.S. House vote on Dec. 16, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) described the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom as “a beacon of hope” for those whose religious liberty is under attack.
“These individuals long to have their plight known and their cause championed,” he said, adding that he was “grateful” that Congress recognized the importance of the commission’s work.
Congressman Wolf co-authorized the legislation that created the commission in 1998, to call attention to religious liberty violations around the world.
The commission advises the president, U.S. Congress and State Department on the status of international religious freedom.
It presents an annual report on religious liberty abusers and recommends that specific countries which tolerate “particularly severe” violations of religious freedom be designated as “countries of particular concern.”
The commission’s funding was originally set to expire at the end of September, but a series of brief extensions was granted by Congress over the next three months, allowing it to continue its work for a few weeks at a time.
The latest extension was set to expire at 5 p.m. on Dec. 16. The commission had already begun winding down operations so it could close its doors by the end of the day, before it was reauthorized by Congress on the morning of Dec. 16.