WASHINGTON, D.C.—Statesmen and policy heavyweights called upon the Senate to vote on House-passed bill H.R. 390 to protect persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria, at a reception honoring former Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA).
The Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act of 2017 directs the State Department to provide assistance to entities that criminally prosecute those suspected of committing genocide, wars against humanity, or war crimes in Iraq over the past six years, or in Syria during its civil war. The bill’s primary focus is to stop the genocide of Christians in those countries.
Tom Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute, which hosted Wednesday’s reception, called Wolf “the father of international religious liberty policy” for the United States.
Wolf was the author and primary sponsor of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. That law created a U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, established the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and assigned a Special Adviser on International Religious Freedom in the White House’s National Security Council.
In 2016, Congress expanded these protections with the Frank R. Wolf Religious Freedom Act, named in honor of Wolf for his decades of work protecting Christians and religious minorities across the globe.
The House unanimously passed this new bill championed by Wolf as a private citizen, H.R. 390, on June 6, 2017. It then went to the Senate, where the Committee on Foreign Relations has not yet acted on the legislation. Wolf sees the legislation as essential to stopping the genocide against Christians in those two war-torn nations.
Without this new law, “We are ready to see the end of Christianity in the cradle of Christendom,” Wolf warned the audience at the reception.
Wolf was first elected to Congress in 1980, and served for 34 years. A social conservative warrior and devout Christian representing northern Virginia, he gained many friends from both sides of the aisle.
Senior lawmakers from across the political spectrum praised Wolf for how his faith in Jesus Christ informed every aspect of his conduct in both public and private life. “He had a moral compass that other members [of Congress] recognize in a place that does not have many compasses,” observed former Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA).
Others were more explicit. Former Sen. John Warner (R-VA), very much from the moderate wing of the GOP, reflected on the years they served together, and lauded Wolf, saying that “his Christian faith and his ethics were above reproach.”
Even from the far left side of the ideological spectrum, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) showed up during the latter part of the event to lavish praise on Wolf, recounting his trips to Chinese prisons to shine an international spotlight on religious and political persecution.
In doing these things, Wolf “acted upon his deep religious beliefs,” Pelosi explained, expressing her admiration for the depth of the former congressman’s religious convictions. By his actions, he was “calling out very courageously the injustices he was confronting,” Pelosi declared.
Wolf earned bipartisan respect in Washington because of “his serious sustained attention to policy,” said Judge Ken Starr, who emceed part of the ceremony. Starr mentioned numerous dangerous and impoverished areas around the world that Frank chose to visit personally to better understand the plight of those who were persecuted or oppressed, including Darfur and Tibet.
Despite all of his accomplishments and the awards he’s received, Frank is a genuinely humble man,” said former Attorney General Ed Meese. “In a city of great egos, Frank is the exception.”
Wolf retired in 2014 from the seat currently held by Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), but he refuses to stop working. He has been traveling and speaking, and will now take a leading role with the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, an organization with the mission of enacting public policy at the national and international level “where religious freedom is recognized by nations across the globe as a fundamental human right.”
As Meese concluded of his longtime friend and ally, “He’s the epitome of servant leadership in the service of the Lord.”
Ken Klukowski is senior legal editor for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.