Commission Head: Religious Freedom Worldwide has ‘Spiraled Downward’

Commission Head: Religious Freedom Worldwide has ‘Spiraled Downward’

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A refugee prays in front of an image of Christ in a makeshift church in a camp called "The Jungle" in 2015 in the port of Calais, France. (CNS photo/Stephanie Lecocq, EPA) See REPORT-FREEDOM May 3, 2016.
A refugee prays in front of an image of Christ in a makeshift church in a camp called "The Jungle" in 2015 in the port of Calais, France. (CNS photo/Stephanie Lecocq, EPA) See REPORT-FREEDOM May 3, 2016.
A refugee prays in front of an image of Christ in a makeshift church in a camp called “The Jungle” in 2015 in the port of Calais, France. (CNS photo/Stephanie Lecocq, EPA)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – The state of religious freedom worldwide saw more decline than improvement in the last year, said Robert George, chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

“Regrettably, things have not improved, and in some places, things have gotten worse,” said George, a Princeton University law professor and director of the university’s James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, during a May 2 telephone news conference coinciding with the release of the commission’s annual report.

“At best, in most of the countries we covered, religious conditions have failed to improve in any demonstrable way. In most cases, they have spiraled downward,” he added. The 2016 report, covering the year from March 1, 2015, to Feb. 29, 2016, notes the nations labeled by the State Department to be “countries of particular concern” for their treatment of its citizens’ religious rights: China, Eritrea, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Four of the countries — China, Iran, Myanmar and Sudan — have had the designation since it was first issued in 1999. An 11th nation, Tajikistan, was added by the State Department in April.