By Aaron Earls
Seventeen nations have been classified as the worst offenders of religious freedom. The list probably won’t surprise you.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent, bipartisan advisory body, released their 2015 Annual Report and recommended the U.S. State Department designate almost 20 “countries of particular concern” or CPCs.
These are nations “whose government engages in or tolerates particularly severe violations of religious freedom that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”
In 2015, the USCIRF has asked the Secretary of State to re-designate nine countries as among the worst nations for religious persecution: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
Burma, China, Iran, and Sudan have been among those classified as a CPC since the State Department first began such designations in 1999.
There is a reason—religious persecution and violence have continued to be frequent and severe.
Early this year in Burma, two Christian women volunteering as teachers with the Kachin Baptist Convention were raped and murdered. Those in their community believe members of the Burmese army did this because of their work as Christian missionaries.
In China, seemingly due to the sustained explosive growth of Christianity, a new wave of persecution swept through in 2014 that has been described as “the most egregious and persistent since the Cultural Revolution.”
Last year alone, more than 400 churches were torn down or had crosses forcibly removed and/or demolished.
In addition to those like Burma and China recommended for re-designation, the commission also felt eight other nations should be added to the list: Central Africa Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Syria, Tajikistan, and Vietnam.
That brings the total of countries the USCIRF believes should be classified as CPCs by the State Department to 17, all of which are in or around the 10/40 window.
Ten other nations are part of a second tier where the violations are serious and characterized by at least one of the elements of “systematic, ongoing, and egregious,” but do not meet the full standard to be classified as a CPC.
Those are Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Laos, Malaysia, Russia, and Turkey.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.