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USCIRF Reauthorization Act of 2015 S.1798

Discussion in 'Legal and Government Actions Involving Scientology' started by TheOriginalBigBlue, Sep 3, 2015.

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  1. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    The Church of Scientology can use the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom) as a vehicle to provide cover for the exportation of the unique protections granted to them by the IRS' Religious Status determination. Other countries that want to provide stronger protections to individuals can feasibly be coerced by the US into tolerating abuses and abusive organizations that receive a form of immunity in the US.

    The law that establishes the Commission is up for renewal by the US Congress on September 30, 2015 and the Church of Scientology has signed onto the letter to Congress requesting renewal.

    The spirit of the Commission may be well intended but it's mission statement should include provisions to address abusive organizations that operate under the cloak of religion. Here are some links and partial texts to provide an overview:

    _____
    http://m.cnsnews.com/news/article/l...ious-leaders-call-congress-re-authorize-vital
    US Bishops, Religious Leaders: Congress Must Re-Authorize International Religious Freedom Commission
    By Lauretta Brown | September 2, 2015 | 3:43 PM EDT

    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined other civic and religious leaders last weekurging Congress to re-authorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) with only a month remaining before its mandate expires.
    ///
    _____
    http://writ.news.findlaw.com/hamilton/20030130.html

    The IRFC accused France of religious oppression for merely proposing to distinguish "cults" or "sects" from mainstream religions. The root of the condemnation comes from the U.S.'s constitutional tenet that the government may not distinguish between mainstream, emerging, and fringe religions. Under our law, they are all equally religions for religious liberty purposes.
    ///
    France has been struggling, as some States have here in the U.S., with the issue of how to regulate those religious groups that prey on children or the psychologically enfeebled through brainwashing. In the recent past, people have died in cults in France. It is a vexing issue of how to serve the needs of children and disabled adults without infringing religious liberty.
    ///
    In French lawsuits involving the Scientologists, millions of pages of evidence suddenly were missing, making it difficult for prosecutors to go forward. France investigated, and considered the Scientologists themselves as possible suspects. It had every right to do so, for it has every right to do what it can to protect its prosecutorial system from infiltration intended to undermine successful prosecutions.
    ///
    _____
    http://www.gerryarmstrong.org/50grand/writings/armstrong-ltr-2003-04-09.html

    I think that the U.S. Government must publicly discuss the nature, policies, practices, products and personnel of self-determined “religions” if the Government is going to publicly support them or publicly criticize any country that opposes those “religions.” That Congress debates the condemnation of countries for standing up to Scientology’s totalitarianism and criminality without debating what it is those countries are objecting to is wrong.
    ///
    _____
    http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf

    USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF reviews the facts and circumstances of religious freedom violations and makes policy recommendations to the President,the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and the Congressional leadership of both political parties.
    ///
    _____
    http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/authorizing-legislation-amendments

    SEC. 405. DESCRIPTION OF PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS. [22 USC 6445.]
    (a) DESCRIPTION OF PRESIDENTIAL ACTIONS.--Except as provided in subsection (d), the Presidential actions referred to in this subsection are the following:
    (1) A private demarche.
    (2) An official public demarche.
    (3) A public condemnation.
    (4) A public condemnation within one or more multilateral fora.
    (5) The delay or cancellation of one or more scientific exchanges.
    (6) The delay or cancellation of one or more cultural exchanges.
    (7) The denial of one or more working, official, or state visits.
    (8) The delay or cancellation of one or more working, official, or state visits.
    (9) The withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of United States development assistance in accordance with section 116 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
    (10) Directing the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, or the Trade and Development Agency not to approve the issuance of any (or a specified number of ) guarantees, insurance, extensions of credit, or participations in the extension of credit with respect to the specific government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible for violations under section 401 or 402.
    (11) The withdrawal, limitation, or suspension of United States security assistance in accordance with section 502B of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
    (12) Consistent with section 701 of the International Financial Institutions Act of 1977, directing the United States executive directors of international financial institutions to oppose and vote against loans primarily benefiting the specific foreign government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible for violations under section 401 or 402.
    (13) Ordering the heads of the appropriate United States agencies not to issue any (or a specified number of ) specific licenses, and not to grant any other specific authority (or a specified number of authorities), to export any goods or technology to the specific foreign government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible for violations under section 401 or 402, under
    (A) the Export Administration Act of 1979;
    (B) the Arms Export Control Act;
    (C) the Atomic Energy Act of 1954; or
    (D) any other statute that requires the prior review and approval of the United States Government as a condition for the export or re-export of goods or services.
    (14) Prohibiting any United States financial institution from making loans or providing credits totaling more than $10,000,000 in any 12month period to the specific foreign government, agency, instrumentality, or official found or determined by the President to be responsible for violations under section 401 or 402.
    (15) Prohibiting the United States Government from procuring, or entering into any contract for the procurement of, any goods or services from the foreign government, entities, or officials found or determined by the President to be responsible for violations under section 401 or 402.
    (b) COMMENSURATE ACTION.--Except as provided in subsection (d), the President may substitute any other action authorized by law for any action described in paragraphs (1) through (15) of subsection (a) if such action is commensurate in effect to the action substituted and if the action would further the policy of the United States set forth in section 2(b) of this Act. The President shall seek to take all appropriate and feasible actions authorized by law to obtain the cessation of the violations. If commensurate action is taken, the President shall report such action, together with an explanation for taking such action, to the appropriate congressional committees.
    (c) BINDING AGREEMENTS.--The President may negotiate and enter into a binding agreement with a foreign government that obligates such government to cease, or take substantial steps to address and phase out, the act, policy, or practice constituting the violation of religious freedom. The entry into force of a binding agreement for the cessation of the violations shall be a primary objective for the President in responding to a foreign government that has engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom.
    (d) EXCEPTIONS.--Any action taken pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) may not prohibit or restrict the provision of medicine, medical equipment or supplies, food, or other humanitarian assistance.
    _____
    https://www.worldmag.com/media/docs/s_1798__uscirf_reauth_letter__aug242015.pdf

    Dear Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Cardin,

    We write as an informal group of organizations and individuals who are scholars,
    religious leaders, human rights advocates and practitioners to urge you to facilitate the
    swift passage of S. 1798, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
    (USCIRF) Reauthorization Act of 2015. This bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 16, 2015, and we are hopeful that it will pass the Senate, with bipartisan support, before USCIRF’s current authorization expires on September 30, 2015.
    ///

    Letter signed by:

    CHURCH OF SCIENTOLGY NATIONAL AFFAIRS OFFICE

    Rev. Sue Taylor
    National Public Affairs Director
    Church of Scientology National Affairs
    Office
    _____
    https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1798/text

    S.1798 - United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reauthorization Act of 2015114th Congress (2015-2016)
     
  2. Lone Star

    Lone Star Crusader

    This is infuriating. My government extorting other countries to be cult friendly.

    This is the opposite of what our Founders wanted.
     
  3. prosecco

    prosecco Patron Meritorious

    Not sure who this letter is intended for, but can see it being thrown straight in the bin.

    Most civil servants, the people who would open the mail and screen it, are fairly well educated people, and assuming that the audience is other governments, the idea that the US can 'export' religious freedom is quite laughable.
     
  4. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    The letter is directed to Bob Corker and Ben Cardin:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Corker

    Robert Phillips "Bob" Corker, Jr.[1] (born August 24, 1952) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Tennessee, serving since 2007. Corker, a member of the Republican Party, is currently the chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in the 114th congress.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Cardin

    Benjamin Louis "Ben" Cardin (born October 5, 1943) is an American politician and member of the Democratic Party who serves as the junior United States Senator from Maryland, in office since 2007.
    ///


    This letter is being sent to government employees in support of continuing an existing government program that has bipartisan support. Unless someone has been paying close attention to the Scientology case in France or this nuanced aspect of the bill, then they probably will support it on the basis that they think it will help protect Christian war refugees or other similar groups.

    It is effectively an "International Cult Rights" law but it is also cleverly framed to claim the moral high ground. Unless this issue is picked up by the media or other religious organizations quickly and in a big way then I think it will pass.

    However, I am also a big believer in the law of unintended consequences. Scientology has put their name to this so anyone who gets tainted by the affiliation when this inevitably goes sideways may become compelled to distance themselves and correct the injustice later.
     
  5. prosecco

    prosecco Patron Meritorious

    This really really makes me angry. Yes, of COURSE people in Syria and other war torn nations should get refugee status for, inter alia, religious persecution. But for scientology to jump on the religious protection band wagon makes me want to gag.

    And especially at a time when people, including that poor little 3 year old Syrian boy, who lost his life trying to seek asylum.

    Thanks for finding this...
     
  6. JustSheila

    JustSheila Crusader

    I'll write Senator Corker since I'm in Tennessee. Will bring it up to the skeptics group here, too.
     
  7. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    This article by Jeffrey Augustine helps define the problem as it pertains to Scientology:

    http://tonyortega.org/2015/08/15/why-no-one-should-ever-join-scientologys-sea-org/

    ///
    This “ministerial exception” is why Sea Org workers do not have to be paid minimum wage or overtime; why they can be locked up and brutalized in the RPF; and why they receive no pension after decades of service. Scientology has been able to brutalize its workforce with endless hours, sleep deprivation, unhealthful food and psychological terrorizing and American courts have been reluctant to do anything about it. The Church has a culture of contempt and brutality in which it sees Sea Org members as “coins” that can be traded among Orgs and then kicked to the curb when they weaken by reason of age or infirmity. The Sea Org euphemism for this cruelty is called “Fitness Boarding.” Old and sick Sea Org members are fitness boarded, given $500, and then shown the door. Is what I am describing inaccurate? Is my language too strong? Not according to the language invoked by Bert Deixler and the Church of Scientology in their DeCrescenzo filing:
    ///
     
  8. JustSheila

    JustSheila Crusader

    Thanks, BigBlue. I'll incorporate the concepts into my letter. I'll also call on Tuesday (for those who don't know, it's Labor Day weekend here) to find out exactly where this Bill is at.
     
  9. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    Various Catholic organizations have been pushing for USCIRF Re-Authorization hard for months so the Pope must be aware of it and may even push it during his US visit. I doubt that the average Catholic has any idea that Scientology is using it to establish US protections of their conduct in other countries and for all we know the Catholic Church itself might enjoy the same cover for illegal acts by clergy and so also be willing to overlook the First Amendment loophole. The Ex-Scientology and anti-Cult community is probably a small voice in relation to the other religious groups pushing for re-authorization but if it makes it to radio or TV where someone can cut through the complexity for the public then someone in Congress might make the connection between all of this.

    CNSNEWS.COM is a conservative site. I highly doubt even they understand this issue.

    The EU is also forcing broad religious acceptances onto member countries now. We can probably expect to see something like Scientology and pro-Sharia groups forming an alliance towards establishing similar First Amendment type protections internationally.
    _____
    http://m.cnsnews.com/news/article/l...ious-leaders-call-congress-re-authorize-vital
    US Bishops, Religious Leaders: Congress Must Re-Authorize International Religious Freedom Commission
    By Lauretta Brown | September 2, 2015 | 3:43 PM EDT

    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) joined other civic and religious leaders last weekurging Congress to re-authorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) with only a month remaining before its mandate expires.
    _____
     
  10. CommunicatorIC

    CommunicatorIC @IndieScieNews on Twitter

  11. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    VWD CommunicatorIC.

    May I suggest that you include Jeffrey Augustine's link & text from post #7 above to the WWP post:

    http://tonyortega.org/2015/08/15/why...logys-sea-org/

    ///
    This “ministerial exception” is why Sea Org workers do not have to be paid minimum wage or overtime; why they can be locked up and brutalized in the RPF; and why they receive no pension after decades of service. Scientology has been able to brutalize its workforce with endless hours, sleep deprivation, unhealthful food and psychological terrorizing and American courts have been reluctant to do anything about it. The Church has a culture of contempt and brutality in which it sees Sea Org members as “coins” that can be traded among Orgs and then kicked to the curb when they weaken by reason of age or infirmity. The Sea Org euphemism for this cruelty is called “Fitness Boarding.” Old and sick Sea Org members are fitness boarded, given $500, and then shown the door. Is what I am describing inaccurate? Is my language too strong? Not according to the language invoked by Bert Deixler and the Church of Scientology in their DeCrescenzo filing:
    ///
     
  12. CommunicatorIC

    CommunicatorIC @IndieScieNews on Twitter

    From Quentinanon on WWP.

    https://whyweprotest.net/threads/sc...ation-act-of-2015-s-1798.130157/#post-2554447

    * * * * * BEGIN QUOTATION * * * * *

    http://www.uscirf.gov/about-uscirf/who-we-arewhat-we-do

    More fecal waste legislation from the Bill Clinton administration used to harass democracies that disagree with the criminal activities of the scientology cult.

    WHO WE ARE
    USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad. USCIRF uses international standards to monitor religious freedom violations globally, and makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress. USCIRF Commissioners are appointed by the President and Congressional leaders of both political parties. Their work is supported by a professional, nonpartisan staff. USCIRF is separate from the State Department, although the Department’s Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom is a non-voting ex officio Commissioner.
    WHAT IS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
    Inherent in religious freedom is the right to believe or not believe as one’s conscience leads, and live out one’s beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear. Freedom of religion or belief is an expansive right that includes the freedoms of thought, conscience, expression, association, and assembly. While religious freedom is America’s first freedom, it also is a core human right international law and treaty recognize; a necessary component of U.S. foreign policy and America’s commitment to defending democracy and freedom globally; and a vital element of national security, critical to ensuring a more peaceful, prosperous, and stable world.
    WHAT USCIRF DOES

    • Issues an Annual Report by May 1st of each year. The report assesses the U.S. government’s implementation of IRFA; recommends countries that the Secretary of State should designate as “Countries of Particular Concern” for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom;” documents country conditions in around 30 countries; reports on significant trends; and recommends U.S. policies.
    • Documents Religious Freedom Conditions Abroad by meeting with senior government officials, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, religious leaders, victims of persecution, and others in countries including: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Burma, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
    • Engages Congress by working with Congressional offices, testifying at hearings, and holding briefings on issues including: protecting international religious freedom; Iran’s human rights record under Rouhani; human rights abuses in Egypt; religious minorities in Syria; anti-Semitism; the persecution of religious and indigenous communities in Vietnam; persecuted Uighur Muslims in China.; and the plight of prisoners of conscience around the world. With the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, USCIRF launched the Defending Freedoms Project, working with Members of Congress to highlight religious prisoners and imprisoned human rights defenders worldwide.
    • Issues Reports with Policy Prescriptions, Press Releases, Op-Eds, and Journal Articles including: the global use of blasphemy laws; religious violence in Pakistan; religious freedom provisions in the constitutions of Muslim-majority countries; Russia’s failure to protect religious freedom; the status of religious minorities in Iran; religious violence in CAR; anti-Semitism; and the U.S. government’s treatment of asylum seekers in Expedited Removal.
    • Engages Multilaterally in meetings related to religious freedom and tolerance, including at the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the European Union, and with parliamentarians from across the globe.



    * * * * * END QUOTATION * * * * *
     
  13. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    As far as I can tell, no one is more directly responsible for facilitating Scientology's Tax Exempt Status, Official Religious Recognition and International Protections than Bill and Hillary Clinton. Has anyone else of such high station in the US government done as much?
    _____

    How serious is Hillary and Bill Clinton's relationship with Scientology?

    http://dailycaller.com/2015/06/21/church-of-scientology-lobbied-hillarys-state-department/

    ///
    Greg Mitchell, proprietor of The Mitchell Firm, is Scientology’s official Washington lobbyist. A church member, Mitchell works to help the church gain mainstream credibility and to lobby on behalf of issues the church cares about, like criminal justice reform and religious freedom in foreign countries.
    ///
    Church of Scientology International spent $80,000 over three quarters to have Mitchell lobby the State Department in 2011, during Clinton’s tenure as the head of the agency.
    ///
    The Clinton administration’s Internal Revenue Service granted Scientology its status as a tax-exempt church within Clinton’s first year in office in 1993.
    ///
     
  14. TheOriginalBigBlue

    TheOriginalBigBlue Gold Meritorious Patron

    It appears that there is strong political resistance to the exportation and enforcement of the US's interpretation of "Religious Freedom" even within the State Department.
    ______________________

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/201...grading-religious-freedom-post/?intcmp=hplnws

    [h=2]State Department[/h] [h=1]Administration takes heat for downgrading religious freedom post[/h] By Jennifer G. Hickey
    Published November 12, 2015

    (snip)

    The Near East and South Central Asia Religious Freedom Act, passed on a bipartisan vote last year, authorized the creation of a "special envoy" to advocate for the protection of at-risk religious minorities in the region. It came amid mounting reports of ISIS terrorists beheading Christians and religious minorities being abused throughout the Middle East.


    But the appointment was delayed more than a year. And when Secretary of State John Kerry finally and quietly named Knox Thames to the post, the title was changed to "special adviser."


    The distinction matters because special envoys would report to Kerry, while Thames' "adviser" position reports to the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein.


    "The administration said that persecution of religious minorities was a priority, but they waited over a year to pick a person to fill the role of special envoy and when they finally selected someone, they appointed them to a much lower position that limits the engagement with the secretary," Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said in an interview with FoxNews.com.

    (snip)