WASHINGTON — The State Department should add Russia to its list of the worst violators of religious freedom, a U.S. commission declared in its annual report.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) comes out with its own list of shame each year, citing the most abusive countries in a lineup consistently longer than the State Department’s.
On April 26, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. should designate Russia as a “country of particular concern,” for wielding an anti-extremist law to violate the religious freedom of Muslims and other minorities.
Most recently Russia banned Jehovah’s Witnesses, labeling them “extremist” and ordering the state to seize their properties.
“They’re treating these people like they’re terrorists,” said Tom Reese, a Jesuit priest who chairs USCIRF, referring to Russia’s treatment of the Witnesses. “They’re pacifists, they don’t want to be involved in politics and they just want to be left alone.”
Globally “the commission has concluded that the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations,” Reese said. (RNS)
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