Record Religious Genocide: 'ISIS as Toxic as Nazis'
Religious persecution has reached record levels in the Middle East and it's on the rise here in the United States, too.
That's what experts told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee weighing in on spending more to protect religious liberty abroad.
On Capitol Hill Thursday, experts highlighted Turkey, Pakistan, and Iran, where Pastor Saeed Abedini and 91 other Christians remain imprisoned for their faith.
"Iran is silently suffocating the Church -- even private worship comes at a heavy price," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, told the panel.
Is the United States doing enough to protect religious freedom around the world? The ACLJ's Jay Sekulow addressed that question and more on The 700 Club, March 12.
At the hearing, ISIS was described as an organization as toxic as the Nazis, with the same systematic approach.
"There is a 9/11 every single day, every single day and sometimes much worse," Sekulow said.
Witnesses urged a renewed focus on religious freedom as a priority of foreign policy. They want the United States to withhold financial aid from the worst violators, and they're concerned that the nation isn't doing a good enough job to protect religious liberty at home.
"When we no longer make it a priority domestically, that sends a message to bad actors abroad," Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said.
"When Navy chaplains can't speak about their faith, when Christian business owners are limited because of their faith, when universities say, 'you can only be a part,' we're downgrading our religious liberty here in the States," Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., warned.
The State Department's ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, Rabbi David Saperstein, is new to the job and has a staff of just 20 operating in 16 countries.
Appropriations chair Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., voiced support for increasing his budget, which is scheduled to decrease with the next round of sequestration cuts.