In the heart of the dry and dusty West Texas oil fields rests the city of Midland. For most outsiders, Midland is best known as the childhood home of former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush. At the turn of the millennium, however, the quiet, industrious town halfway between Fort Worth and El Paso set off a firestorm of activism. Deborah Fikes was the unassuming teacher, wife and mother who lit the spark.
After George W. Bush was elected President, he made frequent references to Midland. “If you really want to understand me,” he would tell reporters. “Go back to my roots.” And they did. Reporters flooded Midland, and Fikes recognized an opportunity. “Churches in Midland had one of the most unique opportunities to plug in at a high level. If they got involved, they would have the ear of the President and could make a difference.” Read more here.
25th Anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act
Freedom of religion is both America’s first freedom and a universal human right. Yet many people around the world live in countries where this right is denied or restricted. Twenty-five years ago, IRFA was enacted to elevate religious freedom as a higher priority in U.S. foreign policy and strengthen the United States’ advocacy on behalf of individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of their religion or belief. On October 27, 1998, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) elevated freedom of religion or belief as a U.S. foreign policy priority. This landmark law mandates that U.S. policy include condemning violations of religious freedom abroad and assisting foreign governments to protect this fundamental right. IRFA established the U.S. Department of State’s Ambassador at Large and Office for International Religious Freedom and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Twenty-five years later, global religious freedom concerns are more integrated than ever before into U.S. diplomacy, human rights programming, refugee resettlement, development efforts, humanitarian aid, and training. Violations have been documented and exposed and violators sanctioned. Repressive governments have changed laws and policies, and they have released prisoners. Issues of international religious freedom now receive significant media and public attention. And importantly, the United States no longer stands alone in recognizing the significance, for global peace and prosperity, of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) for everyone, everywhere.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USICRF) published a summary of their achievements over the past 25 years that you can download here.
Two Religious Freedom Champions Honored at 21Wilberforce Dinner
The beautiful Great Hall on the campus of Dallas Baptist University was the setting for 21Wilberforce’s annual Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Award dinner the first week in October. This award embodies the work of former Congressman Frank Wolf who worked tirelessly for decades to promote international religious freedom. After retiring from Congress in 2015, Congressman Wolf served as Distinguished Senior Fellow at 21Wilberforce and he now serves as an appointed Commissioner on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Guests were welcomed by Dallas Baptist University Chancellor, Dr. Gary Cook, and enjoyed instrumental music by Sara Marantz, Worship Ministry Pianist at Park Cities Baptist Church, during the meal. Read more here.
International Day of Prayer November 5, 2023
Every year, Christians around the world set a day aside for prayer for our sisters and brothers who are persecuted for their faith Please join First Baptist Church Midland and others from the Midland, Texas community on the Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church for a free banquet in the First Baptist Midland Fellowship Hall at 5PM, followed by a time of worship at 6PM in the First Baptist Midland Worship Center. Register here.
International Day Of Prayer 2023 is on November 5, 2023 and the theme is: “Courage to Rise Above” Joshua 1:9 with a focus on India, Nigeria and Nicaragua. IDOP stands for International Day of Prayer: for the Persecuted Church. IDOP Canada has created a free resource kit that is print ready, can be downloaded. Learn more here.
UN Special Rapporteurs release allegation letter raising “utter concern” at the inaction by Nigeria in prosecuting the perpetrators responsible for the lynching of Deborah Emmanuel for blasphemy and the arbitrary detention of Rhoda Jatau. Read more here.