Posted by: Fr Chris | April 29, 2010

US International Report on Religious Freedom

The USCIRF report has come out on religious persecution around the world. For the first time, Nigeria, Africa’s most populated nation, is on the list as a country of concern due to the escalating conflicts in the north over imposition of Shari’a law, and the failure of the Nigerian government to intervene.

I urge you to take the time to read this. The cover photo shows one elderly Muslim Uighur woman facing down lines of Chinese riot police during the recent disturbances in Xingjiang province, and as early as page 1 the commissioners praise the heroism of Sudanese Christians who showed up to continue their struggle for religious freedom just hours after being savagely beaten.

The report can be found here:

It is 382 pages in Adobe, but allow the download a little time and it is well worth it.

The website of the commission is here

You can do searches of the website. Again, be inspired – these government workers are men and women who have faced opposition from within the US Administration but keep doing their job:  putting on effective pressure on states to cut back on the persecution; publicizing the persecution; and fulfilling their mandate to document religious persecution whether or not they get the full backing of the State Department and other agencies.

Frankly, they are not getting full support for the cause of religious freedom from our President or Secretary Clinton, who seem to be repeating the errors of some of our past leaders during the Cold War by limiting their speech to “religious worship” and other trite phrases – see page 16. There is still not an Ambassador-at-large for religious freedom: see why this matters on page 17 and following pages.

Country chapters begin on page 30 with Burma and end on p. 323 with Venezuela – yes, Venezuela. The Chavez government has gone after Catholics, Protestants and Jews.

Pages 336-340 cover the “religious defamation” efforts at the UN, which focus solely on Islam to the detriment of all other faiths.  The commission gives sharp recommendations to the UN.

The religious Tolerance Program in the OSCE states,  to most of which the USA has close ties, is not being funded well or encouraged. This is a real issue, as only with education and true acceptance of each other as fellow human beings regardless of faith life, will there be peace in many of these states.  The commission report doesn’t pull any punches, that’s for sure.

Religious freedom is paramount to the American culture and way of life, and should be one of the paragons of our foreign policy. How can we win hearts and minds abroad if we fail to support these basic principles, and if our own government is pushing faith life into a back corner?

Do read this, do encourage your senator and representative to read this, do pass it around the internet. Thank you!

In terms of workers who take their job seriously:  these people rock! Their cause is  a precious one, one which the US should be proud of and pushing, not shoving aside.

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