Senate Religious Persecution Task Force

Membership, Purpose, Legislative Agenda
with Examples of Religious Persecution

Distributed May 1997 by Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK)


Inhofe (Chairman), Ashcroft, Brownback, Coats, D'Amato, Helms, Specter


Religious persecution is increasing against all faiths but in particular against Christians especially in China and the Muslim world.

A radical regime in Sudan allied with Iran has used massacre, starvation, slavery, and forced resettlement against the Christian minority.

In communist China, there is massive repression against tens of millions of Christians, both Protestant and Catholic, in the unregistered "house church" movement.

The advisory committee established by the administration to monitor religious persecution has done nothing of substance in response to this increasing pattern of abuse.

There is no one-time, quick-fix answer. As the Task Force works on addressing these atrocities, we welcome your input.


Legislation prepared by Senator Specter and Representative Wolf will be the starting point for the Task Force. There are some aspects that could be problematic and I would like to work on alternative language.

SPECTER/WOLF: Provides for targeted economic sanctions.
PROBLEM: Success of economic sanctions has been mixed because they tend to be too weak and waiveable by the president.

SPECTER/WOLF: Increases opportunity for persecuted religious communities to be admitted in refugee status is or granted asylum status.
PROBLEM: The bill uses the plight of Soviet Jews during the Cold War as a model. However, the emigration solution for 2 million Soviet Jews then may not be the solution for 50 million Chinese Christians today.

SPECTER/WOLF: Five year extension of Lautenberg amendment.
PROBLEM: This may unnecessarily complicate our efforts. Claims of asylum or refugee status based on religious persecution must be taken as seriously as forms of persecution.

Other legislative remedies may include:

Withholding funds for a visit of President Jiang Zemin of China for an official visit until the president certifies specified improvements have taken place with respect to Christians.

Free standing legislation on Sudan (also in Specter/Wolf).

Establishment of "equal access" laws that would require U.S. diplomatic and consular premises abroad to permit religious services. The U.S. mission in Saudi Arabia no longer allows Christian services on the premises, although they have set aside facilities for Islamic worship.

Sudan: Religious Persecution

China: Religious Persecution