The approach of the Fourth of July reminds us once again that vigilance is the price of freedom. A new report from the U.S. Department of State puts that duty into stark relief, illustrating the horrific toll that accompanies the abdication of human rights and the proliferation of religious bigotry and intolerance abroad.
The annual survey on religious freedom, submitted to Congress under the requirements of the Religious Freedom Act of 1998, documents continued and worsening persecution of religious minorities in a variety of countries around the world.
As Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: “Governments in many parts of the world continue to target religious minorities using a host of methods, including torture, beatings, unlawful surveillance, and so-called re-education camps.” If your mind goes straight to China’s ongoing persecution of its Muslim Uyghur minority, you’re right on the mark.
But China is far from the only serial abuser of human rights and religious freedom on the global stage. The new report is a tough read – a compendium of horror stories that illustrates the world of difference between those nations that value the free exercise of religion and those that do not. Below, find a few of the biggest takeaways.
When it comes to our trading partners, China remains the biggest human rights offender. However, India is also called out in the report as a habitual violator of religious liberty, with a range of documented, targeted attacks against religious minorities and a majority of its 28 states affirmatively prohibiting religious conversion by law.
The United States is unique in its radical protections for the free exercise of religion. We are duty-bound and bound by law to respect our differences, despite not-infrequent attempts of overweening bureaucrats to diminish that mutual respect. As we look forward to celebrating Independence Day, we say to “ bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
And we can reflect on how fortunate we are to have the First Amendment as a shield against religious bigotry.