The United States Department of State issued its 2013 International Religious Freedom Report and the assessment was that it was a very bad year. 2013 saw the largest displacement of religious communities across the globe. About 75% of all nations have gotten worse. In Syria, for example, the number of Christians has dropped from over 160,00 to barely 1,000 after years of conflict. In Mosul, Iraq, where ISIS forces have recently captured the city, some 35,000 Christian families have fled, leaving around 1,500, just in the past few weeks. Across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, Christians are being persecuted, hunted and murdered. Things are not much better for Jews, even in Europe. About 48% of Jews in Europe say that antisemitism has become so bad that they desire to migrate. Secretary John Kerry acknowledges that the report tells of bad news for those of faith, but offers no real solutions.
While the majority of nations are showing a rise in religious persecution, 9 are singled out as ′Countries of Particular Concern′, or CPC. They are Burma, China, Eritea, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and, for the first time, Turkmenistan. Since the report only covers actions in 2013, the recent actions in countries like Iraq and Nigeria are not included, but certainly should be considered by policy makers.
Religious freedom is a fundamental human right. Persecution of such often impacts other aspects, such as the general treatment of women. Many women are forced into slavery and suffer horrible physical mutilations as a result of their religious beliefs. Economic freedom is also often impacted by religious persecution. In many places, people are taxed at harsher rates or denied employment or pursuit of professional careers due to their religious beliefs.
The 2013 International Religious Freedom Report issued by the U.S. State Department paints a grim picture. While Secretary John Kerry and other officials are giving it some lip service, there is no real plan by the Barack Obama administration as to how to improve conditions worldwide, let alone in any one region or particular country. Speaking Truth to Power or just using the report itself as a topic of discussion is woefully inadequate to reverse the trend of religious persecution. Yet, this is the best Obama and Kerry came come up with as a response.