Congress is considering a piece of legislation that could bolster America's foreign policy efforts on religious issues in a number of countries.
For years, One News Now has reported extensively on blasphemy laws across the world and their negative impact on Christians. Matias Perttula, advocacy director for International Christian Concern, explains that while approximately 80 countries have such laws, they remain virtually unenforced in Western countries.
"But where they are enforced, in countries like Pakistan and Saudia Arabia and so on, they are used to the most extreme degree possible," Perttula laments. "Many of them actually, if they are violated, some segments of the legal code call for the death penalty."
In the last few months, three Pakistani Christians facing the death penalty had their convictions overturned and have been released, one who had served close to 11 years on death row, while another two dozen remain behind bars. In all cases, the charges were false from the outset.
"More often than not, the laws are used as grounds for societal and communal levels of persecution – so essentially, if a Christian person is accused of blasphemy, they're mired for life," Pertulla adds somberly. "And whenever [the authorities] interject blasphemy into the situation, there is essentially no recovery for those individuals."
ICC learned this month of a recently-adopted resolution (House Resolution 512) that calls for a worldwide repeal of the infamous blasphemy laws in all 80 countries. It has now been sent on to the Senate.
"It is time for all countries which still harbor these laws to take them down. Western countries that have these laws on the books – even if they are not enforced – only give credence to the countries like Pakistan that enforces theirs to the most extreme degree," ICC says of H.R.512.
Pertulla tells One News Now that if the resolution passes, it will give America's ambassadors for religion more clout in dealing with those countries.