WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) earned the highest score in the Senate again this week, which was bestowed by the latest International Religious Freedom (IRF) Congressional Scorecard, a non-governmental organization (NGO) assessment that recognizes lawmakers’ devotion to advancing religious liberties via their voting record, caucus work, and sponsoring of bills, among other efforts.
More Democrats received highest scores than Republicans, although the scorecards, first launched in 2017, covered the Republican majority sessions of Congress.
Rubio came out on top for his chamber on all three scorecards, released since 2017 by the Christians human rights NGO, 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative.
The NGO released one for the 114th session of Congress (January 2015 to January 2017), another for the first year of the 115th session, and the latest one issued Tuesday for the 115th in its entirety.
Breitbart News spoke to Lou Ann Sabatier, the communications director of 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, on the day it issued the IRF Congressional Scorecard.
Referring to the assessment, she said, “First, we want people to know and appreciate that we have members of Congress who have championed international religious freedom in tangible ways.“
“Secondly, we want to encourage legislators to take even bolder actions in support of international religious freedom,” she added. “And we want to ‘stir’ citizens to be more curious about what Congress is doing and to understand the scope of challenges they face on this issue.”
In the final assessment for the 115th congressional session, Rubio was joined by Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) in the House of Representatives in receiving the highest scores, showing bipartisan support for religious freedoms.
Only in the first scorecard (114th Congress) did two Republicans from each legislative chamber of the U.S. Capitol receive the highest scores.
Sabatier told Breitbart News, “Scoring is pretty balanced between Democrats and Republicans; it transcends partisanship.”
“Republicans and Democrats are working together on international religious freedom issues,” she added. “The Notable Leaders [48 out of 535 members of Congress] in the Senate did skew more to Democrats, but it’s balanced in the House.”
“I believe the reason this holds true is that it is the foundational freedom; it’s the dignity of humanity to respect and protect freedom of conscience and religion or belief,” she also said.
All scorecards covered Republican majority congressional sessions, but they all showed bipartisan support for religious liberties.
In a rare show of bipartisanship, however, the NGO recognized 31 Democrat and 17 Republican lawmakers as “notable leaders” of religious freedom.
In its assessment, the Wilberforce Initiative explained:
The FINAL International Religious Freedom Congressional Scorecard illuminates the voting records of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for bills, resolutions, and amendments that support international religious freedom. It also tracks sponsorship and co-sponsorship of bills, votes in the House and the Senate, and international religious freedom-related caucus membership.
Some analysts indicated that Congress can still do more to promote religious freedom.
Katrina Lantos Swett, the president of the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights & Justice, declared in a statement attached to the release of the scorecard:
The FINAL IRF Congressional Scorecard has an incredibly important story to tell. As religious freedom abuses have proliferated around the world, America’s efforts to advocate for this bedrock human right have not kept pace. This vital tool tells us who in our Congress is leaning forward in defense of the First Freedom and who is leaning back. This is information we need to know so that all of us can better protect the conscience rights of people around the globe.
The NGO acknowledged that the scorecard is not a perfect tool.
“There are additional factors that cannot be reflected therein. Not all efforts made in the promotion and protection of international religious freedom can be publicly recorded,” it added, noting:
Low scores do not necessarily indicate disagreement with international religious freedom legislation, but rather that it was not a high priority for that legislator. Conversely, high scores indicate that a given legislator has made support of international religious freedom a priority.
The NGO released its scorecard amid the second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. Department of State this week.