Religious freedom is a prerequisite for democracy – US commission

China's catholic dioceses are to respond to the government led campaign of the 'sinicization of religion' with a plan of action. (Photo: World Watch Monitor)
A wealth of research shows that a society’s level of religious freedom is linked to its levels of critical social indicators, such as prosperity, stability and peace, the chairman of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom told British parliamentarians. Dr. Daniel Mark, chairman of USCIRF, an independent, bipartisan federal . . . Read More

Uzbekistan President vows to reform ‘mad dog’ secret police

Uzbekistan President vows to reform ‘mad dog’ secret police
Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has said he will reform the country’s secret police, reports Radio Free Europe (RFERL). Calling members of the security services “mad dogs”, Mirziyoev has accused the SNB (a successor to the Soviet-era KGB) of committing atrocities, targeting innocent people and “exceeding its authority”. The SNB developed . . . Read More

US agency accuses Russia of abusing anti-extremism laws

US agency accuses Russia of abusing anti-extremism laws
Russia’s anti-extremism laws are being used to crack down on peaceful religious minorities such as Protestants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hare Krishnas, the top US religious-freedom watchdog says. A report commissioned by the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) found that “vague and problematic definitions of ‘extremism’ in Russian law . . . Read More

Russian Patriarch and UK archbishop call for greater support for persecuted Christians

Russian Patriarch and UK archbishop call for greater support for persecuted Christians
The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Archbishop of Canterbury have called for more aid to reach Middle Eastern refugees, especially Christians, and for robust safeguards against extremist ideology, which they say has spread “like an epidemic”. Patriarch Kirill and Archbishop Justin Welby released a joint statement thanking . . . Read More

Russia closes Baptist church despite recent praise of Protestants

Russia closes Baptist church despite recent praise of Protestants
A Baptist church has been closed down in Russia only weeks after a senior official praised the contribution Protestants had made to the country’s culture during a speech marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The owners of the church in Tula, central Russia, were charged with “improper use of . . . Read More

Uzbekistan should ‘protect religious freedom, not see religion as a threat’ – UN Special Rapporteur

Uzbekistan should ‘protect religious freedom, not see religion as a threat’ – UN Special Rapporteur
Uzbekistan should invest more time in protecting religious freedom in its ongoing reforms rather than see religion as a threat, a UN expert has concluded after an official visit to the country. “Resilience against religious extremism can be built on strengthening diversity as well as freedom of religion or belief,” . . . Read More

Hungary’s response to urgent need to help persecuted Christians ‘stay in their homelands’

Viktor Orban Gergely Botár/kormany.hu
Referring to his country’s experience of oppression during the Soviet Union era, the Hungarian Prime Minister has once again explained why his government has been the first – and so far the only – government to specifically address the persecution of Christians around the world. Yesterday (12 October) he pledged . . . Read More

Belarus archbishop: ‘Give Catholic Church its rights’

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev © Aid to the Church in Need
A Catholic archbishop in Belarus has asked the government to make it easier for foreign priests to work in the country and to return ownership of church buildings to the Catholic Church. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, whose diocese encompasses the capital, Minsk, told Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need . . . Read More

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center

More than 80 countries ‘favour’ one religion over others – Pew Research Center
Over 80 countries favour a specific religion, either officially as a state religion or tacitly through special treatment, according to a new report by the US-based Pew Research Center. Islam is the most common state religion – 27 countries have it as their official religion, including 16 of the 20 . . . Read More