USA (MNN) — Shock and disbelief follow the United States Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) announcement. Released each year by the State Department, the CPC list identifies the world’s worst religious freedom offenders.
“There were surprises” in this year’s list, Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says.
“Nigeria and India were not given CPC designations, something the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has responded to. Frankly, I find it even more surprising that Afghanistan was not given a CPC designation; the government is the Taliban.”
The USCIRF issued a strongly-worded press release condemning India and Nigeria’s exclusion from the CPC list:
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) finds it inexplicable that the U.S. Department of State did not include Nigeria or India in its latest designations of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), turning a blind eye to both countries’ particularly severe religious freedom violations.
Announced last Friday, the list’s release barely made a blip on the U.S. news radar.
“It seems like they (the State Department) did this in a way to generate minimum press coverage. It was like a ‘news dump’ on a Friday afternoon: ‘hey, we’re putting out this report. Good luck. Have a great weekend,’” Nettleton says.
“In past years, there has been a press conference, and the Secretary of State has taken questions about religious freedom.”
Theoretically, CPC designations are a foreign policy tool. “It opens the door for sanctions or some real teeth to be put into some of these [foreign policy] decisions,” Nettleton says.
“But most administrations have been hesitant to use all of those tools.”
Whether politicians use the CPC list or not, you can use it to pray. “We need to make sure we’re not just seeing this as a list of countries on a paper, but a list of places where we have brothers and sisters who are suffering because of the oppression their governments have against Christianity,” Nettleton says.
Header image depicts ‘Religious Liberty”, a statue commissioned by B’nai B’rith and dedicated in 1876 to “the people of the United States” as an expression of support for the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. (Wikimedia Commons)