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Religious Intolerance on the Rise Globally

“Religious freedom conditions worsened across the globe in the past year, according to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom’s 2018 report, released April 25.”

“The worst abuses against religious freedom included genocide, enslavement, rape, imprisonment, forced displacement, forced conversions, property destruction, and bans on religious education of children.

“The commission recommended that 16 countries be recognized by the State Department as a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), a label that identifies foreign governments that engage in or tolerate “systemic, ongoing, and egregious” religious freedom violations. Receiving this designation from the State Department opens the door to consequences including trade and funding sanctions.”

Ten of the 16 were recognized as CPCs in December 2017. They are Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

“However, the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom urges that religious freedom violations in Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Nigeria, Vietnam, and the Central African Republic were so severe that these countries also merit CPC designation.

“Of these six unrecognized countries, USCIRF Chair Daniel Mark is particularly concerned about the state of religious freedom in Pakistan.” But the United States is protecting Pakistan from the CPC designation because of its importance in the fight against terrorism.

Russia and China intensified repression of religious freedom over the course of 2017. Russia is the only country to have expanded its repressive policies to a neighboring territory by means of military invasion. Crimean Tatar Muslims are being kidnapped, tortured, and imprisoned in Russian-occupied Ukraine. China has recently banned Bible sales and downloads, as well as kept up its repression of unregistered churches while stepping up control of recognized religions particularly in Xinjiang and Tibet, which “increasingly resemble police states,” the report said.

In its 2018 report, USCIRF also recognized 12 additional countries with a Tier 2 status of less severe or systemic religious freedom violations: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cuba, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, and Turkey.

Non-state actors like the Islamic State were also identified in the report as Entities of Particular Concern (EPC), along with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and al-Shabaab in Somalia.

As state pressure on religious freedom increases, it is helping God’s true people understand what the final crisis will be like. The Bible predicts a return to persecution in countries where today there is freedom of religion.

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” Revelation 13:15

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