Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has tracked the world’s worst abusers of religious rights.
As the most recent report notes, it has never lacked for material. Persecutions of people of faith are rising across the globe.
Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are “authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion.”
In typically bland bureaucratic language, the State Department calls these “countries of particular concern.” But the designation can come with some teeth.
Sudan, for example, where a Christian woman was sentenced to death this week for leaving Islam, is ineligible for some types of foreign aid.
In addition to Sudan, here are the State Department’s “countries of particular concern.” You might call them “The Worst Places in the World to Be Religious.”
Burma: The Burmese government puts a stranglehold on every religion except Theravada Buddhism, says the State Department.
Some government officials even enticed non-Buddhists to convert, and Muslims in the state of Rakhine, particularly Rohingya Muslims, are subject to discrimination and lethal violence, according to the State Department.
China: “The government harassed, detained, arrested, or sentenced to prison a number of religious adherents for activities reportedly related to their religious beliefs and practice,” the State Department says.
That includes jailing Uyghur Muslims, one of whom was sentenced to 10 years in jail for “selling illegal religious material,” and Catholic clergy who were arrested for not belonging to the state-run Catholic Patriotic Association.
That pales compared with the persecution of Tibetan Buddhists, according to the State Department, who suffered through “an intense official crackdowns at monasteries and nunneries resulting in the loss of life, arbitrary detentions, and torture.”
Eritrea: Just four religious groups are officially allowed to openly practice their faith in this African nation; the rest are out of luck, subject to jailing or worse.
So if you’re not an Eritrean Orthodox Christian, a Sunni Muslim, a Roman Catholic or an Evangelical Lutheran, life could be tough for you here. Harsh detentions for religious dissenters are the norm, according to the State Department.
SOURCE: Daniel Burke