Women of Grace | 060118
A new report by the U.S. State Department details an increase in religious persecution that is becoming so frightening that many observers are becoming numb to lesser violations.
“The state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations,” according to the annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
“The blatant assaults have become so frightening – attempted genocide, the slaughter of innocents, and wholesale destruction of places of worship—that less egregious abuses go unnoticed or at least unappreciated. Many observers have become numb to violations of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion.”
During a press conference about the new report, former Senator Sam Brownback, who serves as the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, told the media that “We all have a stake in this fight. One person’s bondage is another person’s burden to break. We’re all people with beautiful and undeniable human dignity. Our lives are sacred. Our right to choose the road our conscience takes is inalienable.”
The kind of persecution documented in the report ranges from people being killed for their faith to those who are denied access to work or medicine for their beliefs, and include people of all faiths, from Christians to Muslims to Falun Gong practitioners.
He cited incidents in Eritrea where the government reportedly killed, arrested, and tortured religious adherents and coerced individuals into renouncing their faith. Religious prisoners are routinely sent to the harshest prisons and receive some of the cruelest punishments. Released religious prisoners have reported that they were kept in solitary confinement or crowded conditions, such as in 20-foot metal shipping containers or underground barracks, and subjected to extreme temperature fluctuations.
In India, it is estimated that on average of 10 times a week, a church was burned down or a cleric beaten between January and October 2016. —triple the number of incidents reported in 2015. Hindu nationalists routinely destroy church property, beat congregation members including females who are often stripped naked and beaten.