From: G L Bowman
On March 20th I telephoned Cong. Paul's office in D.C. and spoke with Joe who informed me that Ron Paul OPPOSES H.R. 2431. Hallelujah! ! !
I thought everyone on our Loop would appreciate seeing his response. I did not want to go on just the response of Mr. Carlson at We Hold These Truths who I have spoken with twice. So here it is word for word.
Thank you for taking the time to contact my office regarding HR 1685\HR2431, the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act of 1997. Participation in the political process by individuals such as yourself is absolutely necessary to the preservation of liberty so highly esteemed by our nation's founders as well as myself.
I believe it is useful to begin with some detail as to what HR 1685/HR2431 proposes. This bill would create a new office within the Administration which, in conjunction with the State Department, would research, make policy recommendations, and maintain lists of goods and services used by "religious persecutors." In addition, HR 1685 prohibits federal agencies and U.S. persons from exporting goods to citizens within countries whose governments either engage in or tolerate "religious persecution." At least three issues arising from this proposed legislation warrant discussion and debate: (1) Constitutional authority; (2) effectiveness of trade sanctions; and (3) rights swapping."
Religious persecution is a reprehensible form of force when committed by governments as well as non-governmental entities. For this reason, our Constitutional framers insisted upon a Bill of Rights which prohibited our federal government from interfering with religious exercise by persons with the United States. The Constitution, however, does not provide the federal government authority to police the world at taxpayer expense. Neither, however, should we continue to subsidize foreign governments through such taxpayer supported entities as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, OPIC, or any number of other "foreign aid" vehicles through which the U.S. Congress sends "foreign aid" vehicles through which the U.S. Congress sends foreign aid to a large number of countries (including those who engage in religious persecution).
As to the effectiveness of trade sanctions on reforming human rights records, the trade embargo imposed upon Cuba by the U.S. for the past thirty years serves as a good example of the lack of the effectiveness of just such a policy. According to Father Robert Sirico, a Paulist priest who recently discussed this topic in the Wall Street Journal, American missionaries in persecuting countries favor economic engagement and see this as the policy most likely to bring about positive change in such countries.
Lastly, while basic human rights must include the right to free religious exercise absent interference from the state, they must include, at the same time, the right to enter into voluntary exchanges with others. To prohibit U.S. citizens from entering into voluntary exchanges with citizens of foreign counties in the name of "protecting" the human rights of citizens of other countries would be internally inconsistent. Trade barriers when removed, after all, benefit consumers who can purchase goods more cheaply than previously available. Those individuals choosing not to trade with citizens of particular foreign jurisdictions are not threatened by removing barriers for those who do.
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