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Published on 19 September, 2011

Religious rights watchdog group notes the glaring omissions from Religious Freedom Commission

International (MNN) — The U.S. State Department released the
“Annual Report on International Religious Freedom,” detailing the world’s worst
offenders of religious rights.

The most oppressive were put on a list labeled “Countries of
Particular Concern.” They are chronic, long-term violators of
religious freedom: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia,
Sudan and Uzbekistan.

Carl Moeller with Open Doors USA says while the
awareness brought about by this report’s annual release is good, “There
are some significant gaps that we should focus on, in cooperation with the
State Department, to help advance the cause of religious freedom globally.”

Most notably are the countries which are absent. “The
Congressional Commission on International Religious Freedom says they
recommended Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam to be on
that list.” And from that notorious
grouping, “We would also discuss Somalia, even though the reality is there
is that it’s a failed state–difficult to apply any sanctions to basically a
place that’s so chaotic, yet really, a glaring omission.”

Pakistan made international headlines this year for
assassinations of government heads that were sympathetic to Christian, and
especially outspoken on behalf of the use of the blasphemy law. The report cited the case of Asia Bibi, a
Christian woman under the death sentence for her conviction in her trumped up
case.  

The criteria used for determining the list seems to be
unequally applied. Moeller explains, “It
is a political environment because two countries out of the eight that are
designated as Countries of Particular Concern, we do not apply the sanctions
implicit in the law: Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan.”

However, Moeller points out, the omission isn’t lost on the world
stage. In fact, it could cost the United
States credibility in the long run. “We should encourage our law makers and
our law implementers in the executive branch to carry out the laws of this
country. The reason the law was passed was to use the great and good influence
of the United States for the values that the United States was founded
on.”

While no new countries were added to the 13th annual report,
neither were any removed. The report has
had roughly the same players since 2009. That doesn’t mean things are better for those caught afoul of
anti-Christian sentiment. “These
countries all represent heinous places for Christians to try and live out their
Christian faith. If we are going to stand with the church that is standing
literally against the gates of hell in these situations, we need to become
informed on the conditions that they face.”

Open Doors provides many tools to educate yourself on what’s
going on in the CPCs. They also have
detailed information on the scenario facing Kingdom work in the countries that
weren’t listed but have troubling records.
Click here.

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