October 29, 2020 •
Commemorating International Religious Freedom Day and the International Religious Freedom Act
October 27 marked the anniversary of International Religious Freedom Day, a testament to the right of all to freely practice the religion or belief of their choice.
Sudan Outlaws Public Flogging and Torture and the Draconian Punishment of Apostates
Nearly two and a half months after Sudan banned the cultural practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), the government has announced new laws that ban torture and flogging and end the death penalty for apostasy.
Muslim Civil Liberties Group Advocates for Jewish Prisoner Denied Kosher Diet
A Jewish prisoner who has been refused a Kosher diet is getting legal help to redress his grievance from a Muslim civil liberties group, a Jewish newspaper reports.
Asian Bishops Concerned Over the Impact of China’s New National Security Law on Religious Freedom
As China began rolling back the administrative autonomy of Hong Kong with its new national security law, one of Asia’s leading Catholic prelates expressed apprehension about the ultimate impact of this action on religious freedom.
Does Turkey’s New System for Changing Religious Affiliation Online Presage a More Tolerant Religious Atmosphere?
Turkey has launched an “ e-Government Gateway ” system. Does this offer new opportunities for discrimination?
U.S. Watchdog Proposes ‘Binding Agreement’ With Pakistan to Combat Blasphemy Laws and Persecution of Minority Ahmadiyya Muslims
The USCIRF says the United States should create a binding agreement aimed at addressing religious freedom violations in Pakistan.
Vatican Calls for Curbs on Religious Intolerance and Discrimination
The Vatican calls on OSCE member states to protect religious freedoms against a rising tide of discrimination and intolerance adversely impacting the fundamental rights of minority communities, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Uyghur Activist Appointed as Commissioner to U.S. Religion Watchdog
An activist for the rights of the Muslim Uyghur community in China’s Xinjiang province has made history by becoming the first member of that minority group to be appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
UK Urges the UN to Protect the Freedom of Religion or Belief
UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights calls for overcoming the barriers, discrimination and persecution which restrict and prevent people from exercising their freedom of religion or belief.
February 11, 2020 •
International Religious Freedom Alliance Launched in Washington
U. S. State Department launched the International Religious Freedom Alliance February 5 in Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2020 •
British Envoy Shows ‘Respect for All Faiths’
Great Britain’s new Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chishti, began his tenure last month by taking his oath of allegiance on three religious texts to show “respect for all faiths.“
December 20, 2019 •
State Department Targets Violators of Religious Freedom
The United States Department of State has designated nine nations as “Countries of Particular Concern” for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedoms.
November 5, 2019 •
21Wilberforce Launches Freedom Center for Global Advocacy
21Wilberforce, a human rights organization named for William Wilberforce, a 19th-century British lawmaker who was key in the abolition of slavery in the British Empire, has launched Freedom Center, a new resource for human rights advocacy.
Spotlight on Religious Freedom at the UN
At the Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom at UN headquarters in New York, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the state of religious freedom internationally as “a pressing global issue and one that is also very close to my heart.
September 25, 2019 •
The Anniversary of the First Amendment
As revolutionary as the American War of Independence was, the Bill of Rights was even more so, as it guaranteed the rights of the individual—something never previously incorporated incontrovertibly into law.
September 18, 2019 •
Religious Freedom Awards Promote Tolerance and Diversity
The 6th annual Religious Freedom Awards at the National Church of Scientology of Spain acknowledged three stellar advocates of religious freedom.
International Religious Freedom Roundtable: A Vital Movement in the World Today
Of all the events of the 2nd Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, Wednesday afternoon’s segment on the International Religious Freedom Roundtable may well have the greatest impact in advancing religious freedom around the world.
Religious Freedom: The Focus in Washington
Religious freedom is once again taking center stage, as officials, religious leaders and human rights advocates from across the world head for Washington, D.C., and the Second Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom. As many as 115 invited foreign ministers are expected to attend.
Candidates Urged to Support Religious Freedom and Inclusion
European Parliament candidates were urged to affirm their support of religious freedom at a conference April 2 organized by the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) at the European Parliament.
Religious Freedom Conference at the UN Explores Solutions
International Religious Freedom: A New Era for Advocacy in Response to a New Age of Challenges and Threats at UN headquarters in New York March 1 featured international leaders in the movement to promote religious tolerance and counter oppression.
Faith and Freedom Summit II April 2 at the European Parliament
The Faith and Freedom Summit II, to be held April 2, 2019, at the EU Parliament, continues the campaign for the protection of freedom of religion or belief launched June 28, 2018.
Multifaith Coalition Demands an End to Media-Incited Acts of Violence
“Houses of Worship Must Be Sacrosanct—We Are Family—Respect the Religious Beliefs of Others.” This was the message a delegation of religious leaders presented to members of Congress and to a gathering of more than 100 religious leaders in Washington, D.C.
January 22, 2019 •
Muslims and Jews Challenge New Law in Belgium
A law banning ritual slaughter of animals required in the Muslim and Orthodox Jewish religions went into effect in Belgium January 1.
December 31, 2018 •
In Iraq, Christmas Became a National Holiday This Year
In Iraq, Christmas Became a National Holiday This Year
November 25, 2018 •
A Series of Week-Long Courses Explore Religious Freedom Issues
Six week-long graduate-level courses offered by the Religious Freedom Center of the Freedom Forum Institute focus on creating greater understanding of the First Amendment and its application in today’s world. These curricula are offered to fill the gap in most people’s education.
November 20, 2018 •
25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium
J. Reuben Clark Law School of Brigham Young University hosted the 25th Annual International Law and Religion Symposium of the International Center for Law and Religion Studies October 7 - 9.
October 29, 2018 •
For The New York Times, the Truth About Religion is Hard
Germany is still having trouble learning the lessons of its shameful past. Religious discrimination remains alive and well, and the New York Times not only forwards it but amazingly refuses to expose it when given every opportunity.
October 24, 2018 •
Pastor Brunson Safely Home in America After Two Years of Prison in Turkey
Christian pastor Andrew Brunson, who served a small Evangelical Presbyterian congregation in Izmir, Turkey, for 23 years, is back in the U.S. after more than two years in prison.
September 13, 2018 •
All-Faiths Network: The Religious Precedents of Human Rights
This summer’s All Faiths Network “Human Rights and Religion” forum in the UK focused on religious antecedents to the modern concept of universal human rights.
September 9, 2018 •
Faith Leaders Sign Declaration of Religious Freedom
Religious leaders gathered last week at the Church of Scientology of Bogotá for an interreligious prayer service and to sign the Interconfessional Declaration of Religious Freedom in Colombia.
September 4, 2018 •
Sleeping Giant: Awakening the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
On Dec. 10, 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was ratified in Paris. Forty-eight nations signed the Declaration, which, in article 18, enshrines freedom of religion.
New Task Force to Protect Religious Liberty
Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Monday that the Department of Justice is creating a religious liberty task force. It is co-chaired by Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio and the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, Beth Williams.
Comments on the First Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom
Chair of Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and Vice Chair Kristina Arriaga put last week’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom into perspective.
The Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom Begins Tuesday
July 24 marks the beginning of the 3-day Ministerial, convened by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as one of his first actions upon assuming office in May 2018.
UK Appoints a Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief for the First Time
Lord Tariq Mahmood Ahmad, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and the United Nations, has been named the UK’s first Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief.
The Fourth of July and Religious Freedom
Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, the signing of which is celebrated throughout America today, was also a staunch advocate of religious freedom.
Presentation at the Faith and Freedom Summit
Presentation by Rev. Eric Roux, Vice President of the Church of Scientology European Office of Public Affairs and Human Rights at the Faith and Freedom Summit in Brussels
U.S. Envoy in Nigeria to Enhance Religious Freedom in the Country
Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback visits Nigeria, prompted by U.S. concern over the state of religious freedom in that country.
Key Points of the 2018 International Religious Freedom Reports
An analysis, published in Providence magazine highlights key points covered in the International Religious Freedom Report.
Faith and Freedom Summit
The Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) announces the Faith and Freedom Summit: Practicing what we Preach in Europe, to take place June 28th in Brussels, at the Solvay Library.
Pompeo Pledges to Make Religious Freedom a Priority
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged the administrations support for religious freedom May 29 at a news conference to release the annual International Religious Freedom Report.
New French Terrorism Laws May Undermine Rights and Freedoms
Special Rapporteur on the protection of human rights in the context of countering terrorism voices concern about the effect of anti-terrorism laws in France.
Speaker of the House Makes Appointment to the USCIRF
On May 21, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan reappointed Kristina Arriaga to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Five days earlier, President Trump appointed Gary L. Bauer, Nadine Maenza, and Johnnie Moore to the Commission.
Opinion Piece Outlines the Influence of the Islamic State in Indonesia
An article May 20 in the Asia Times presents insight into the influence of the Islamic State in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic country.
Video Adds Dimension to the Pew Study on Restrictions on Religion
Although presented in 2013, the TEDx talk by Brian J. Grim, founder and president of the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation, adds dimension to the numbers in the most recent Pew Study on Restrictions on Religion.
The Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms
Professor Pieter Coertzen, chairperson of the South Africa Council for Religious Rights and Freedoms, and professor Rassie Malherbe, advisor to the Council, have written the Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms.
The Role of Religious Freedom in Building Safe, Happy and Successful Societies
Religious freedom advocates address the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief of the UK.
UN Special Rapporteur to Review State of Religious Freedom in Tunisia
Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Ahmed Shaheed is to visit Tunisia April 9 to 19 to examine the country’s policies and practices promoting and protecting freedom of religion or belief.
Celebrating 20 Years of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) summit commemorates the 20th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.
Conference on Religious Freedom at the UN Human Rights Council
At the 37th session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations (Geneva), the Coordination of the Associations and the People for Freedom of Conscience (CAP LC), a French NGO with United Nations Consultative Status, organized a conference titled on the deterioration of religious freedom.
Church Bells Ring this Easter in Iraq
Excerpts from an article on an interview with Father Robert Jerjees in Baghdad, in which Al Jazeera reports on the first Easter in Iraq after the defeat of ISIL: The Christian community in Iraq is said to be one of the oldest continuously existing communities in the world.
Interfaith Conference Endorses Declaration of Religious Tolerance
More than 300 religious leaders from around the world met in Washington, D.C., in February where they signed a new declaration calling for the global protection of religious minorities and marginalized communities.
February 10, 2018 •
On Uniting Religions to Protect the Rights of All Faiths
Scientology minister Rev. Eric Roux was a featured speaker at the International Convention: Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe, an Arduous Journey, organized by European Federation for Freedom of Belief (FOB) under the auspices of the OSCE, the Council of Europe and the Regional Council of Tuscany, Italy.
February 3, 2018 •
Australian “Red Mass” to Protect Religious Freedom
In a Red Mass in late January, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher called on Australia’s legal professionals to protect and defend religious freedom in what he termed an age of “militant secularism.”
January 25, 2018 •
Brownback is the New Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, confirmed January 24 as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, assumes the position at a time of increasing government restrictions and social hostilities involving religion.
January 17, 2018 •
Convention on Law and Freedom of Belief in Florence January 18 and 19
The International Convention on Law and Freedom of Belief in Europe begins January 18 at the Saint Apollonia Auditorium in Florence, Italy, under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
December 28, 2017 •
Scientologists March in Hungary for the Religious Freedom of All
On the eve of Human Rights Day, some 1,500 Scientologists from across Europe marched in Budapest in support of religious freedom for Scientology in Hungary and for members of all faiths that have come under attack through Hungary’s new religion law.
November 15, 2017 •
An Important Step Forward for Religious Freedom in Indonesia
In a surprise advance for religious freedom in the world’s most populous Muslim country, Indonesia, the nation’s top court has overturned a law that denied recognition and legal rights to followers of indigenous native faiths.
November 7, 2017 •
Next Ambassador for International Religious Freedom Needs Only Senate Approval
Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has just one more hurdle to pass on his way to assuming the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
November 1, 2017 •
Lord Ahmad Sharpens Goals on International Religious Freedom Day
October 27 was International Religious Freedom Day—an annual event promoting and protecting religious freedom globally.
October 27, 2017 •
Commemorating International Religious Freedom Day and the 19th Anniversary of the International Religious Freedom Act
Did you know? Today is International Religious Freedom Day.
September 14, 2017 •
State Department to Close Office of Religion and Global Affairs
In an article published in Religion & Politics September 5, Shaun Casey, former U.S. State Department Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, wrote of his frustration with the State Department and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Tillerson’s decision to close the Office of Religion and Global Affairs.
Scientology on Newseum’s “5 Minutes of Religious Freedom”
In an interview published by Religious Freedom Center, Rev. Susan Taylor, Public Affairs Director of the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office in Washington, D.C., spoke of the importance the Scientology religion places on religious freedom.
ICCPR Concluding Observations of Second Periodic Review of Liechtenstein Regarding Religious Freedom
In its second periodic report on Liechtenstein July 4 and 5, 2017, the Human Rights Committee expressed concerns regarding the impact that manifestations of the close link between State and church in the country could have for the protection of freedom of religion.
Russian Punk Rocker Fyodor Chistyakov Defects to U.S.
Today’s Radio Free Europe headline is an eerie reminder of an era when artist defections drew the attention of the free world to the repression of human rights in the Soviet Union.
Daily Caller Exposes French Campaign Behind Russia’s Ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses
An article July 23 by Daily Caller columnist Joshua Gill exposes the “French Connection” in the Russian Supreme Court’s July 17 ban on the Jehovah’s Witnesses, showing it was the result of a conspiracy funded by the French government, blessed by the Russian Orthodox Church, and sanctioned by the Put
President Trump Nominates Kansas Governor Sam Brownback for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom (IRF)
If the Senate approves his nomination as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback will face unprecedented challenges in discharging his new responsibilities.
Trump’s New Religious Freedom Chief Has His Work Cut Out For Him
The nomination of Governor Sam Brownback for ambassador at-large for international religious freedom (IRF) provides a bright light of hope for those suffering religious persecution throughout the world.
LDS Video and Website Promote Freedom of Religion for All
Preserving Religious Freedom , a video produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, forwards a vital message. “Freedom of religion is a fundamental human right that protects the conscience of all people. It allows us to think, express and act upon what we deeply believe.
Congress to Consider New Legislation to Assist Tibetan Refugees
The bipartisan Tibetan Refugee Assistance Act has been introduced in the U.S. Congress by two lawmakers. It proposes granting 3,000 immigrant visas over a three-year period to qualified displaced Tibetans.
The 4th of July, JFK and Religious Freedom
An article published in 2014 in Time magazine, “The Theology of the Fourth of July” by Ira Stoll, posits that Independence Day is a religious holiday, and he cites John Fitzgerald Kennedy and the Declaration of Independence to prove his point.
U.S. Catholic Bishops Issue Call to Action as Fortnight for Religious Freedom Concludes
“Freedom for Mission” is the theme of the 2017 Fortnight for Freedom drawing to a close July 4 after two weeks of observance, action, education and prayer focused on religious freedom.
Supreme Court Backs Church Appeal to Receive Government Funds for Secular Purpose
In a 7-2 decision June 26, the United States Supreme Court sided with a Missouri church that had been denied government money to resurface its playground.
Pew Research Center Reports Russian Attitudes Toward Religion
With increased repression of religious freedom in Russia, an understanding of underlying cultural and religious attitudes is essential in effecting change.
USCIRF Chair Testifies at “Freedom of Belief: Countering Religious Violence” Hearing
“Today’s hearing is especially timely given the rise in religious extremism and increased restrictions on religious freedom worldwide,” said Thomas J. Reese, S.J., chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, addressing the U.S. Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission May 24.
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Religion Lauds Albania’s Interfaith Tolerance
On completing an eight-day visit to Albania, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed, praised the country for fostering interfaith tolerance.
U.S. Religious Freedom Policy Recommendations Presented to National Security Council
Religious Freedom Institute (RFI), the International Religious Freedom Roundtable and the Institute for Global Engagement (IGE) briefed the National Security Council May 4 on their recommendations for a comprehensive international religious freedom policy and its importance to national security.
Forum to Focus on Religious Freedom Report and Prisoners of Conscience
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2017 Annual Report, published April 26, is the subject of a May 17 forum in Washington, D.C. USCIRF Commissioners will speak at the event moderated by Religion News Service CEO Tom Gallagher.
Religious Freedom and Free Speech Get High Marks by Millennials, New Survey Finds
A survey released May 1 by the Fund for American Studies (TFAS) found that 93 percent of millennials support religious freedom and 92 percent support free speech.
Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe Protects Family Rights of Minority Religions
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted April 27 in favor of Resolution 2163, “The Protection of the Right of Parents and Children Belonging to Religious Minorities.
Making a Case for Urgency in Naming U.S. Religious Freedom Ambassador
“International religious freedom is not a ‘Republican’ or ’Democrat’ issue. It is not even a ‘bipartisan issue.’ It is a non-partisan issue—an American issue.”
Notre Dame, Baylor Host Religious Freedom Conference at National Press Club
“What is To Be Done?” is a symposium April 20 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., in response to reports of rising persecution of Christians in many countries.
Sikhs of New York Hold 5th Annual “Turban Day” in Times Square
More than 500 Sikh volunteers turned out for “Turban Day” in Times Square April 15. Organized by Sikhs of New York, the aim was to make better known the beliefs and practices of Sikhism, the world’s fifth-largest religion.
CIS Foreign Ministers Council Condemns Religious Intolerance in Member States
The CIS Foreign Ministers Council chaired by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov condemned discrimination and intolerance toward Christians, Muslims and members of other religions at a meeting April 7 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Armenian Genocide Subject of Major Motion Picture with All Proceeds to Nonprofits
More than a century after the Armenian Genocide, the story is now a major motion picture. The Promise is scheduled for release April 21 in the U.S., directed by Terry George and starring Oscar Isaac, Charlotte Le Bon and Christian Bale.
Political Party Leader Urges Pluralistic Ethos for Religious Tolerance in India
In a celebration of the Sikh festival of Baisakhi April 13, Dr. Farooq Abdullah, president of Jammu and Kashmir’s statewide National Conference political party, has called for religious harmony in India.
Pew Research study finds escalating global restriction on religion
The eighth annual study on global restrictions on religion, published by Pew Research Center April 10 reports an increase in countries with “high” or “very high” levels of government laws, policies and actions that restrict religious beliefs and practices.
Johnnie Moore Awarded Medal of Valor by Simon Wiesenthal Center
In acknowledgement for his advocating for persecuted Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, Rev. Johnnie Moore was one of three champions of religious freedom awarded the Simon Wiesenthal Medal of Valor April 5 at a ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
Kazakh Jehovah’s Witness trial draws fire from world’s human rights community
The trial of a Jehovah’s Witness charged with inciting interethnic enmity started April 6 in Astana, the capital city. Teimur Akhmedov, 60, was arrested in January for what the Committee for National Security (KNB) described as propagating ideas that “disrupt interreligious and interethnic concord.”
Religious Tolerance Improved in Canada but Still Needs Work, Study Shows
A new poll on religious views in Canada shows that while acceptance of religious minorities has improved over the past four years, more work is still needed.
Myanmar’s First Cardinal Strives for Peace and Religious Freedom
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon is optimistic about rebuilding Myanmar as it emerges from six decades of military rule and isolation. His concentration is on peace-building efforts and education, as plans progress to establish diplomatic relations between the country and the Holy See.
Michigan mosque zoning approval is a ‘win for religious liberty’
The American Islamic Community Center (AICC) has won a two-year battle with Sterling Heights, Michigan, and gained approval to build a new mosque in the community.
First Report to Human Rights Council by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
The rise of hatred, hostility, discrimination and violence based on religion or belief was the subject of the first presentation by United Nations Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed to the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Policy Brief Urges Attention to International Religious Freedom in U.S. Foreign Policy
The launch of U.S. Foreign Policy and International Religious Freedom: Recommendations for the Trump Administration and the U.S.
UN Special Rapporteur for Cultural Rights: ’Global Avalanche of Hate’ Requires Human Rights Approach
In a report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva this week, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, stated that “We face a global avalanche of hate in the form of rising fundamentalism and extremism around the world.
February 23, 2017 •
Milan Conference Explores Religious Freedom in Italy Since World War II
The Church of Scientology of Milan hosted an interfaith conference February 19 featuring author and archivist Andrea Maori and his research into Italy’s post-World War II suppression of religious freedom.
February 22, 2017 •
House Judiciary Committee Hears State of Religious Liberty in America
The State of Religious Liberty in America was the subject of a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee February 16 on Capitol Hill.
February 21, 2017 •
President Speaks Out Against Anti-Semitic Attacks
President Trump has publicly condemned anti-Semitic hate crimes that occurred across the country over Presidents Day weekend—including some 200 gravestones vandalized in a Jewish cemetery in suburban St. Louis and 11 bomb threats phoned in to synagogues across the country.
February 15, 2017 •
Genocide Declaration a Major Accomplishment, Says Outgoing Ambassador for Religious Freedom
Rabbi David Saperstein, whose term as Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom ended in January, reviewed the past two years of accomplishments and challenges in promoting freedom of religion or belief around the world, speaking at a panel discussion February 9 in Washington, D.C.
February 14, 2017 •
Short List for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom
Foreign Policy reports that a short list leaked this week contains the names of three possible candidates to fill the position of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in the State Department.
February 12, 2017 •
Violations of Rights of Religious Minorities in India, Report Says
A report released this week by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom details religious freedom violations in India against religious minorities and Hindu Dalits and offers recommendations for the Indian government and the U.S. government.
February 6, 2017 •
Appoint Religious Freedom Ambassador in First 100 Days, Letter Urges President
Religious freedom advocacy group 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative (21CWI) sent a letter to President Trump this week, signed by 715 human rights and religious liberty proponents encouraging the administration to swiftly nominate an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.
February 3, 2017 •
Open Doors USA World Watch List shows record high persecution of Christians
Persecution of Christians worldwide hit an all-time high in 2016, according to Open Doors USA in its annual World Watch List . The nonprofit, nondenominational international organization released its 25th annual list at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
February 1, 2017 •
Editorial Urges U.S. to Take ‘Firm and Resolute Stand’ for International Religious Liberty
A recent Op-Ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer by U.S. State Department religious freedom leaders points to an important nexus in religious freedom abuses and other points of national security.
January 24, 2017 •
South African Minister of Police Says Faith Does Not Justify Human Rights Violations
In an address to a prayer service congregation at Alleluia Ministries in Sandton, Johannesburg, South African Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko challenged religious leaders in to do their part to end justification of unethical and even illegal acts in the name of religion.
January 17, 2017 •
Ambassador Brings Live Religious Freedom Discussion to Facebook
David N. Saperstein departed his position this month as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom in the U.S. Department of State.
January 15, 2017 •
Celebrating Milestones in Human Progress on January 15 and 16
January 15 is World Religion Day inaugurated in 1950 in celebration of spiritual unity and peace among religious faiths. This year, this holiday comes the day before this nation celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, one of the world’s great spiritual leaders.
U.S. Army Sikhs May Now Serve God and Country Under New Military Policy
The United States Army this week authorized religiously mandated beards and turbans for active-duty military personnel, ending discrimination against Sikhs and others.
Repressive Anti-religion Laws go into Effect in Kazakhstan
New controls on religious travel and literature ignore OSCE recommendations and violate Kazakstan’s international human rights commitments.
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Appoints New Executive Director
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has appointed Erin D. Singshinsuk as its new Executive Director.
December 30, 2016 •
Prince Charles Urges Religious Freedom and Respect Amid Diversity
In 2016 Christmas Thought for the Day, Prince Charles spoke out against religious persecution and urged respect for those of different faiths. Prince Charles opened his Christmas Thought for the Day broadcast for BBC Radio 4 with the story of a recent meeting with a Jesuit priest from Syria.
December 27, 2016 •
U.S. Congressman Ben Gilman’s Human Rights Legacy
When Ben Gilman passed away December 17 at age 94, he had been retired for 15 years from the U.S. Congressional seat he held for 30 years. The district he represented encompassed portions of Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties north of New York City.
December 22, 2016 •
The Rights of Parents to Raise Their Children in Accordance with Their Religion
A recurring theme of extremists, governmental or private sector, who attack religions is that children should be separated from their parents to “protect” them from adopting their parent’s freely chosen religious beliefs.
December 20, 2016 •
Analysis of Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act
In 2011, Congressman Frank R. Wolf introduced the first bill to amend and strengthen the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA).
December 16, 2016 •
President Obama Signs International Religious Freedom Act Amendment Today
When President Obama signed the International Religious Freedom Act into law today, religious freedom received a significant boost in U.S. Government policy with impact around the world.
December 13, 2016 •
First European Anatheism Conference—The Rediscovery of the Divine
The conference “Contemporary Forms of Anatheism” brought together religious experts and representatives of diverse religious traditions to explore anatheism, “a mystical ground… of what is most fundamental in each religion which is not easily translated into language …”
December 10, 2016 •
Stand Up For Religious Freedom and Human Rights on Human Rights Day
Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day in 1948 that the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
December 8, 2016 •
Religious Freedom Bill Poised for Senate Approval
On December 7, 2016, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously passed HR 1150, the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.
December 3, 2016 •
Religious Freedom Symposium at Georgetown University
A symposium, Religious Freedom and the Common Good, was held November 15, 2016, at Georgetown University.
November 30, 2016 •
International Religious Freedom Roundtable: A Vital Nexus for Faith and Government Leaders
Continuing its mission to reduce global restrictions on religion, the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Roundtable met this month in the Kennedy Caucus Room in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill.
November 27, 2016 •
New Religion Law in Vietnam Contravenes Fundamental Right to Freedom of Religion
On November 18, 2016, Vietnam’s 14th National Assembly passed a new law on religion. Human rights advocates worldwide quickly denounced the law for its violation of Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) , which the Vietnamese government ratified in 1982.
November 25, 2016 •
FBI Reports Sharp Increase in Hate Crimes Against Muslims in America
The FBI’s Hate Crimes Statistics, 2015 shows that hate crimes against Muslims increased by 67%, up from 154 incidents in 2014 to 257 in 2015. The report, which logged 5,818 hate crimes, reveals that attacks motivated by religion rose by nearly 23 percent compared to 2014.
November 22, 2016 •
Interview with Ambassador David N. Saperstein
David N. Saperstein is the United States Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. He is a principal advisor to the President and Secretary of State and serves as the country’s chief diplomat on issues of religious freedom worldwide.
November 14, 2016 •
Religious Freedom a Vital Factor in Economic Growth, Studies Show
Economic growth is driven by just three factors, experts say, and religious freedom is one of them.
November 10, 2016 •
Leader Receives Church of Scientology National Affairs Office Humanitarian Award
The Church of Scientology National Affairs Office bestowed a humanitarian award on Ms. Cynthia Roseberry , Project Manager for Clemency Project 2014 and member of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections.
November 8, 2016 •
New Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Takes Office
Religious Freedom Mandate Extended Three Years to 2016 On 1 November 2016, Ahmed Shaheed assumed his mandate as Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
November 5, 2016 •
Second Letter Demanding Release of Asia Babi Sent to Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States
How one mother’s defense of her religious beliefs has become a desperate fight for her life.
November 3, 2016 •
Outgoing UN Special Rapporteur Calls for State Vigilance Against Religious Persecution
In the final presentation to the UN General Assembly of his tenure on October 28, 2016, Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, urged member nations to guard against all forms of religious discrimination and intolerance.
November 1, 2016 •
EU Special Envoy on Religious Freedom in the Middle East
EU Special Envoy for freedom of religion or belief outside the European Union seeks to make religious freedom in the Middle East a focus of attention.
October 29, 2016 •
OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on Registration and Recognition of Religious Communities
The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) offers guidelines on the issues of registration and recognition of religious or belief communities.
October 27, 2016 •
International Religious Freedom Day
Today, October 27, is International Religious Freedom Day. This year it commemorates the 17th anniversary of the enactment of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA). The International Religious Freedom Act was passed by an overwhelmingly bipartisan initiative in the U.S.
October 24, 2016 •
The Sikh Project
London photographers Amit and Naroop aim to capture the heart of Sikhism through a portrait exhibition called “The Sikh Project.” These unique and touching portraits and accompanying vignettes share the experiences of members of that faith in America and personalize the religion.
October 20, 2016 •
Freedom of Religion and Belief: Problems and Perspectives
Government-sponsored anti-religious hate groups were spotlighted at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw in September 2016.
October 18, 2016 •
All of Us Can Serve the World
Following is the powerful speech of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hessein, given a on October 11, 2016, in which he said “I am convinced that service to our fellow human beings benefits all of us—that it constitutes the only meaningful way to live” and “although individually, none of us can save the world, all of us can serve the world…”
October 15, 2016 •
IRF Roundtable Urges Passage of Pending Religious Freedom Resolution
When members of the United States Congress return to Washington after the elections in November, religious freedom advocates are hopeful the Senate will pass H.R. 1150, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act
October 13, 2016 •
Special UN Rapporteur Calls for End to Harassment of Members of the Bahá’í Faith
On October 4, 2016, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, called upon the government of Yemen to halt harassment of the Bahá’í population in that country. The full text of the Special Rapporteur’s announcement is below.
October 13, 2016 •
Interim Report of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief
The Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief is an independent expert appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.
October 10, 2016 •
The Church of Scientology International Speaks Out at Annual OSCE Human Dimension Meeting
For the 20th year in a row, the Church of Scientology International participated in the Organization for Security and Cooperation’s annual Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw, Poland.
October 10, 2016 •
OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2016
The Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) participating States is Europe's largest annual human rights and democracy conference.
September 27, 2016 •
Hungary: Two Years After Ruling by ECtHR Church Law Remains Unaltered
The Forum for Religious Freedom Europe prepared the following intervention for the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting and presented it on 27 September 2016 in Warsaw, Poland, at Working Session 12.