Thursday, November 10, 2005

Religious Freedom Under Fire: The U.S. State Department's 2005 Report

The document is thorough and detailed so don't look for a short read here. Nevertheless, it is an important guide for our prayers and our grassroots advocacy. Click on the title of this post to go to the Executive Summary of the report.

In the Summary portion, you'll see classified under the heading "Totalitarian or Authoritarian Actions to Control Religious Belief or Practice" the following offenders: Burma, China, Cuba and Noth Korea. They are the worst of the worst.

But that's just the beginning. "Some governments, while not implementing full control over minority religions, nevertheless are hostile and repressive towards certain groups or identify them as "security threats." These governments implement policies designed to demand adherents to recant their faith, cause religious group members to flee the country, or intimidate and harass certain religious groups, or have as their principal effect the intimidation and harassment of certain religious groups." In this category are Eritrea, Iran, Laos, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.

We are still not through, however. The State Department report describes how severe persecution of religious believers is also continuing in Bangladesh, Egypt, India and Sri Lanka while specific religious groups are targeted by the ruling powers in in other nations including Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brunei, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia and Turkey.

The report also has a section explaining hopeful signs of improvement in certain countries and what actions have been taken in 2005 by the State Department and others to move the cause of religious freedom forward.

Overall, though, this State Department report shows a very gloomy picture. And it is not hard to guess what two "religions" are most at work to denigrate, persecute and seek the destruction of all others: Islam and Communism.

As I said, prayers and more work (education and political pressure) are much needed.