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Smother Russia: Oppressive Tactics Lands Country on Watchlist


Good press for Russia is hard to find these days. And that won’t change any time soon, as the result of a new global report on religious liberty. In the latest release from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), members called for Vladimir Putin’s country to be blacklisted for the first time on the group’s watchdog list. “Not only has Russia ‘continually intensified its repression of religious freedom’ at home,” the commissioners write, “it has also expanded its repressive policies to territory of a neighboring country — Russian-annexed Crimea and the regions of eastern Ukraine controlled by Moscow-backed separatists, where ‘religious freedom is at the whim of armed militias not beholden to any legal authority.”

As such, they conclude, Russia is a “country of particular concern.” But overall, USCIRF points out, the crisis is growing. “Overall, the Commission has concluded that the state of affairs for international religious freedom is worsening in both the depth and breadth of violations.” While Egypt and Iraq have made some positive strides, governments around the world (especially Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) are punishing belief to the extreme.

This must change, Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) insists. “The right to practice any faith, or have no faith, is a fundamental human right of all people, no matter where they live,” he said in a lengthy statement. Like us, he knows that America’s hostility to religious liberty at home has led to incredible indifference abroad. After eight years of Obama’s war on faith, it’s time for America to pick up the torch of liberty and find its voice on the crisis.

“The international community must do more to stand up for people around the world that cannot live out their conscience. In order to help protect and preserve this right for all, our American government should do more, and as a first step, nominate and confirm an Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. As a nation, we cannot ensure that the fundamental right of religious freedom is protected for all people if we do not actively address the egregious violations being committed by nations with whom the United States interacts, including our own allies.”


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