By Ken Camp / The Baptist Standard

This is an abbreviated version of the story. For the full story, click here.

President Obama signed into law the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016—an action that drew praise from groups ranging from Baptist agencies to the American Humanist Association.

The bill enhances the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 by requiring the ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom at the U.S. State Department to report directly to the secretary of state.

It also requires international religious freedom training for all foreign services officers, strengthens the role of the special adviser for religious freedom at the National Security Council and creates a list of religious prisoners of conscience.

In addition to the “countries of special concern”—a classification the State Department has used for two decades to identify nations that violate human rights and religious liberty—the bill adds the “entity of special concern” category for nongovernmental terrorist groups.

It also includes a “designated persons list” for individuals who commit egregious violations of religious liberty, and it authorizes the president to sanction them by executive action. …

Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, echoed that sentiment. 

“We are pleased that religious liberty still finds broad bipartisan support,” Walker said. “Strengthening the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, including by protecting nontheistic beliefs and requiring increased religious freedom training for our foreign service officers, emphasizes our shared value of religious liberty for all people across the globe.”

Click here to read the article on the Baptist Standard website.