- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Obama administration hasn’t exactly reached out a helping hand to Christians in overseas settings, turning a blind eye to much of the religious persecution they’ve suffered in regions of Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, not to mention North Korea, a new report accuses.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan organization, said in its report that President Obama and his White House have refused to take strong stands, or legislative action, against those guilty of persecution of Christians.

“While the Obama administration should continue to shine a spotlight on abuses through public statements, it also should impose targeted sanctions to demonstrate that there are consequences, too,” said Dwight Bashir, deputy director of policy and research for the group, to FoxNews.com.

“By not utilizing an existing legislative tool, the United States risks sending the message that it prefers a nuclear deal to standing up for the rights of the Iranian people. The United States should not be confronting such a scenario in the first place,” he told FoxNews.com.

Iran was listed as the worst religious freedom violator of the 16 nations scrutinized in the report, Breitbart reported. Study authors said that nation has only grown more intolerant of religious freedom in the last year, when the new president, Hassan Rouhani, took power.

“As of February 2014, at least 40 Christians were either in prison, detained or awaiting trial because of their religious beliefs and activities,” the study said, Breitbart reported.

Meanwhile, “not a single church or other non-Muslim house of worship exists” in Saudi Arabia any more, the report said. And textbooks for Saudi students continue to push “violence against apostates and polytheists” as a rightful course of action, the study said.

Seventy congressional members petitioned Mr. Obama to broach the issue of Saudi religious intolerance when he visited the region in March, but he failed to do so. The Commission on International Religious Freedom says such refusal to address the persecution isn’t acceptable.

“The defense of religious freedom is both a human rights imperative and a practical necessity and merits a seat at the table with economic, security and other key concerns of U.S. foreign policy,” said Robert George, the group’s chairman, Breitbart reported.

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