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Religious Freedom Under the Gun


THOMAS F. FARR

Source:
Weekly Standard
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
7/16/2012

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ABSTRACTReligious Freedom Under the Gun | The Weekly Standard Wednesday, July 18, 2012 Login Register About FAQs Subscribers Only Contact RSS Loading Advanced Search home magazine July 23, 2012 Vol. 017, No. 42 ( Download Digital Edition ) Editorial Life of Henry Obama's Fantasy World A Campaign Altogether Old Features Man with a Plan Articles When Bankers Behave Badly Party of One The GOP’s Big Tent Romneyconomics Creeps on My Website Books & Arts The Pill Perplex Yanks Are Coming Uncivil Tongues Howdy, Niebuhr Modernist Master Magic Steven Scrapbook Reston-Broder Syndrome Claims Victim Casual Ex Post Facto Parody We were promised jetpacks. blog video politics & government Foreign policy & national security books, arts & society cruise store newsletter subscribe You are here: Magazine / Religious Freedom Under the Gun Hot Topics: 2012 Elections Congress Foreign policy Iran Mitt Romney Newt Gingrich Rick Santorum Syria The Magazine Religious Freedom Under the Gun The Obama administration neglects a key foreign policy issue. Jul 16, 2012, Vol. 17, No. 41 • By THOMAS F. FARR Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts Alerts Hide Get alerts when there is a new article that might interest you. Send me alerts for: Bill Kristol Fred Barnes Jay Cost Your e-mail address: Confirm e-mail address:   Please sign me up for The Weekly Standard weekly newsletter.   The Weekly Standard reserves the right to use your email for internal use only. Occasionally, we may send you special offers or communications from carefully selected advertisers we believe may be of benefit to our subscribers. Click the box to be included in these third party offers. We respect your privacy and will never rent or sell your email. Please include me in third party offers.       The State Department recently announced that it was dropping coverage of religious freedom from its annual Human Rights Report. The declared reason: to avoid duplicating coverage available in the annual Report on International Religious Freedom. A church in Indonesia torched by anti-Christian rioters Newscom There may be other reasons. Given the Obama administration’s consistent downgrading of religious freedom at home and in foreign policy, this move may be part of a larger reprioritization in human rights policy in favor of the advancement of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. Whatever one thinks of that initiative, however, the failure to promote religious freedom abroad is likely to have significant humanitarian and strategic consequences for the United States.  We are today in the midst of a global crisis in religious liberty. In two exhaustive studies, the Pew Research Center recently concluded that 70 percent of the world’s population lives in countries where religious freedom is severely restricted, by either governments or private actors. And the problem is getting worse. The second report, in 2011, found that between mid-2006 and mid-2009 the situation deteriorated in twice as many countries as it improved.  Overall, many of the roughly 70 nations with the highest restrictions on religious freedom are non-Western, Muslim-majority nations. Of all the religious groups subject to persecution, Christians came out on top: They are harassed in 130 countries, Muslims are harassed in 117. Related Stories The Fight the Left Wants Obama v. Constitution Supreme Court Unanimously Upholds Churches's Ability ... Unfree to Be . . . Happy Hour: G.E. Too Busy Collecting Enviro Subsidies ... More by Thomas F. Farr However, historically Christian Europe is the region with the largest proportion of nations where hostility toward religion is rising. Social hostility in the United Kingdom has increased so much that that country now stands with Iran and Saudi Arabia in the category of “high” social hostility to religion. French government restrictions have increased, too, moving it ahead of Cuba in that category.  On balance, it is fair to say that religious freedom is not faring well in the lands where it was first articulated. This should be a warning for Americans. Of course, what is happening in Europe does not approach the levels of violent religious extremism and persecution seen elsewhere—torture, rape, murder, unjust imprisonment, or unjust execution.  And yet, the root cause is quite similar: a belief that religious freedom is not only unnecessary for human flourishing or social development, but that it poses a threat to these and other goods. Such views are not new. Modern tyrants from Stalin, Hitler, and Mao to Mexico’s Plutarco Calles, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad have sought either to eliminate religion altogether, or to control and suppress it in order to keep their regimes in power. Historically, religious freedom has been the bane of tyrants. What is new, and profoundly troubling, is that religious freedom is being rejected by democratic maj.......