Earlier in December, Florida Senator Senator Marco Rubio gave an emotional speech at the Third International Conference on Religious Freedom in Washington D.C.
While acknowledging the increasing persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Rubio, Helsinki Commission Commissioner and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Human Rights Subcommittee, emphasized complacency with the horrific situation wasn’t an option for the United States.
“We must move on with a sense of urgency,” the former presidential candidate proclaimed.
During his speech, Senator Rubio shared how personal the issue of international religious freedom was to him. He said he’s dedicated a lot of time to it since first getting elected to his Senate post in 2010. Rubio feels religious freedom is at the core of America’s own experiment of self-governance.
The former presidential candidate remorsefully noted that infringements of religious freedom take place every day around the world, noting that both state and non-state perpetrators are responsible for these violations. While he admitted that people of all faiths are being affected, Senator Rubio said “it is the persecution of Christians which has reached staggering levels.”
To illustrate his point, Rubio stated that more than 7,000 Christians are believed to have perished for their faith in the year 2015. He reiterated that this astounding number doesn’t include the millions of Christians who were attacked, imprisoned, forcibly removed from their homes, or otherwise harmed during this turbulent time.
“The full measure of human suffering exacted against these innocent people of faith remains truly incalculable,” Rubio said.
The Florida senator candidate warned the audience about the emptiness of words unless sound action follows them.
“If the United States fails to take meaningful steps to support these communities, including ensuring their access to humanitarian assistance and resources they need to rebuild, even more of them will be forced to abandon their ancient homeland,” he added.
Senator Rubio has never been one to shy away from his Christian faith. During his 2016 presidential bid, the junior Senator from Florida frequently mentioned his meaningful journey of faith.
Growing up, he was introduced to both Catholicism and Mormonism. As an adult, he’s attended both a Baptist megachurch and a Catholic church. During a 2012 interview with Christianity Today, Senator Rubio stated, “I’ve never criticized anyone for having their faith influence their public policy decisions. If your faith is real, burning inside of you, it’s going to influence the way you view everything.”
During his speech at the Third International Conference on Religious Freedom, Senator Rubio displayed these profoundly held sentiments when he said, “I’m a deep believer that our foreign policy should be infused with our most deeply held values, such as these. Not to impose it on other people but to ensure that in everything we do, we protect the rights of others to also fulfill their God-given rights.”
The junior Senator from Florida expressed that the Islamic State is trying to erase thousands of years of history along with the people and stories it represented. He described the situation as “a tragedy on a multitude of levels, and a death blow to the vision of a diverse, pluralistic Middle East that respects religious freedom.”
The former presidential candidate pointed out that Christians in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the rest of the Middle East can easily trace the roots of their faith to the earliest apostles. Senator Rubio stated, “Today the marginalization and even the martyrdom that these same communities are suffering are resonant with the earliest persecutions suffered by the followers of our Lord.”
Rubio boldly proclaimed that the spirit of the glory of God is resting upon the oppressed Christians in the Middle East. He challenged the audience to remember that Christians have always been persecuted. Senator Rubio said the Bible warned Christians that they would be hated, rejected, and persecuted by those in the world. He said the reprehensible actions of oppressors of Christians, “bind us closer to those who came before us, and those we will be reunited with in the new world. It binds us closer to the traditions of our faith, and ultimately it binds us closer to our Lord himself.”
~ 1776 Christian