BY ANSEL OLIVER/ANN
American Religious Liberty Association (NARLA) presented its congressional award
this week to a U. S. senator known for his advocacy of religious freedom, and
who is urging fellow lawmakers to create a unique position to help protect
religious minorities in Asia.
Roy Blunt, of
Missouri, is the lead sponsor of bill S.
653, which would establish a special
envoy to promote religious freedom for minorities in the Middle East and
lobbied legislators on behalf of the bill during the past year. The U.S. House
of Representatives passed a similar resolution in September. The details of the
bill, and what’s preventing its passage in the Senate, were outlined last month
in an op-ed by Dwayne Leslie, an associate
director of the General Conference Public Affairs and Religious Liberty
presented the congressional award to Blunt on Tuesday, along with Melissa Reid,
NARLA’s executive director, and Shawn D'Abreu, a NARLA advocate from Blunt’s
home state of Missouri.
has gotten to be a dangerous place for standing up for your religious beliefs.
… Thank you for what you do,” Blunt told the group during a visit in his
Capitol Hill office.
congressional award is typically presented during the annual Religious
Liberty Dinner. A
scheduling conflict prevented Blunt from being able to attend. Both NARLA and
the Seventh-day Adventist Church are sponsors of the annual event.
“It was a
privilege to honor Senator Blunt with our Congressional Award,” said Melissa
Reid, NARLA’s executive director. “He has been a true ally in our quest to
better protect the vulnerable religious freedom of all people everywhere.”
previously served as president of a Baptist university and as a member of the
House of Representatives for 14 years, pledged to continue urging other areas
of the federal government to promote freedom of conscience.
and Leslie stressed the need for the U.S. State Department to fill its position
of ambassador of religious freedom, a role that has been vacant since October.
“I don’t think you can have too many voices on this issue,” Leslie said.