United States (MNN) — The U.S. Department of State has released the 2019 International Report on Religious Freedom, detailing the condition of religious freedom in every country around the world.
Isaac Six of Open Doors USA says, “In some sense, it’s probably the best resource if you’re looking for a comprehensive overview of religious freedom conditions globally. And that’s really where its strength is. USCIRF can only cover so many countries. Different reports cover individual places, countries, or thematic issues. But this report looks at every single country.”
The report has riled up the usual suspects, with countries like Turkey and India responding negatively. But Six says that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “At the very least, it means they’re paying attention to the report. The leaders in those countries, when they look at this report, don’t just issue a PR statement trying to say, ‘We reject this. We don’t believe any of this.’ I know from anecdotal evidence that sometimes these officials and others will actually read the report, and even though they don’t like it, and there are parts of it, they may not agree with, they think, ‘You know, what we could maybe do better.’”
Future impacts of the report
This report also affects which countries get designated as Countries of Particular Concern. The State Department will name these countries in the coming months.
Six expects to see the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) push to have India designated as a CPC this year. “USCIRF, for the first time since 2004, recommended that India be a Country of Particular Concern. India is a major partner and ally of the United States in that part of the globe. And so it’ll be a big question mark to see if the White House and the State Department are willing to go a step further with recognizing some of the really terrible issues going on there.”
Six says these efforts will never end religious persecution. But he encourages Christians to pray that this report and its policy ramifications would relieve some of the pressure felt by Christians who live in countries that allow them to be persecuted.
The US Department of State releases an annual report describing religious freedom conditions in every country on Earth. (Photo courtesy of Open Doors USA on Facebook)