Welcome to USCIRF, From Dr. Robert P. George, Chairman

Welcome to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Thank you for visiting our web site.

USCIRF is a bipartisan, independent federal body that was created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA). The Commission monitors the conditions of religious liberty abroad and recommends policies to the President, Secretary of State and Congress to advance this most precious right. Our Commission highlights and responds to violations of religious freedom or belief in countries around the world that range from severe obstacles to building houses of worship to more dramatic abuses that include arbitrary detention, torture, and murder. Supported by a highly knowledgeable and dedicated staff, we are determined to help ensure that religious freedom and related human rights are given full weight in U.S. foreign policy and that grave violations of these rights by governments across the globe are exposed to the light of day.

Why defend freedom of religion or belief? For some, the answer is that people must respect each other’s beliefs to avoid religiously motivated strife that plagues much of the world. For others, it means standing for a bedrock value of our nation—a basic principle of justice that is recognized in international law and treaties that also include other freedoms, such as those of expression, association and assembly. For still others it is the fact that religious freedom is central to national and global security. As a growing number of studies indicate, religious freedom is integral to the overall health of any society. Nations that honor freedom of religion or belief tend to be less violent and more prosperous, less unstable and more democratic. Countries that fail to uphold this vital liberty are more likely to be wracked by poverty and insecurity, and torn by tyranny and terrorism.

For us at USCIRF, freedom of religion or belief is all of this and more. To respect this liberty and other fundamental rights ultimately means to honor and favor our fellow human beings and the inherent dignity they possess. It is to acknowledge that in order to flourish, people must be free to address the deepest questions of existence and meaning so they may lead lives of authenticity and integrity by following the dictates of conscience, peacefully fulfilling what they firmly believe to be their religious and moral duties.

It is in the interests of our nation and world, and human dignity and happiness, to stand firmly on the side of freedom of religion and conscience. Our Commission is determined to fulfill our mandate in the service of this truly noble cause.