Clinton: Religious Liberty is Falling in World

The US Department of State recently released its 2011 Report on International Religious Freedom covering 199 nations and territories.  US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the state of religious freedom is worsening in the world:

“When it comes to this human right- this key feature of stable, secure, peaceful societies- the world is sliding backwards,” Clinton said.

While much of the publicity has focused on Egypt and Libya for obvious reasons, Secretary Clinton’s statement is particularly enlightening in that two of the primary countries called out in the report are Iraq and Afghanistan — whose governments have only survived because of the support of the United States and the sacrifices of its military.

In other words, religious freedom is suffering in two countries over which the United States has had (and continues to have) direct, immediate influence.

Thomas Farr, formerly director of the State Department’s office of international religious freedom, criticized the State Department’s conduct, essentially saying they’re all talk:

Farr said, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this issue is not a priority for this administration, except perhaps for the speechwriters (who are doing an outstanding job).”

For her part, Secretary Clinton accurately noted that religious liberty is not a product of the government:

“These rights give our lives meaning and dignity, whatever religion we belong to – or if we belong to no religion at all,” Clinton said. “Like all human rights, they are our birthright. They not granted to us by any government. Rather, it is the responsibility of governments to protect them.”

The MRFF’s Richard Baker may take issue with Secretary Clinton’s statement, as he seems to believe religious freedom exists only if the government says it can.