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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today at the second annual International Religious Freedom Summit, Family Research Council's Center for Religious Liberty released a new groundbreaking report on the extent of religious persecution in the U.S., Europe, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. The report titled "Free to Believe? The Intensifying Intolerance Toward Christians in the West," points to a concerning trend of intolerance that has developed over the past two years. In addition to increasing government hostility toward the expression of religious faith, the pandemic gave governments worldwide increased discretion to tighten restrictions on religious practice, ushering in alarming displays of secular intolerance toward religion. The recent attacks and vandalism of churches we are seeing at this very moment are but the latest evidence that many are feeling emboldened to go after religion in the public square.
The report analyzed open-source documents, academic and media reports to assess government violations of religious freedom against Christians in 34 countries. Family Research Council's Center for Religious Liberty identified 99 incidents across 14 of those countries. While the report is not exhaustive, it offers valuable insights into the factors contributing to Western governments' violations of religious freedom against Christians.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins released the following statement on the report:
"Religious freedom is the foundation for the human rights that Western democracies seek to promote abroad. Yet, the ability to promote this fundamental human right will be lost if we do not protect it within our borders. During my time as chair and commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), I saw a marked rise in violations of religious freedom against Christians. This occurred not only in longstanding persecution hotspots such as China, Pakistan, and India, but it also took place across the West.
"It is shocking to see Western countries--the same ones we think of as free and open societies--take authoritarian measures against Christians simply trying to practice their faith during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the rise of government abuse extended beyond those related to the pandemic. These abuses are alarming for Christians around the world who seek to freely practice their faith in the public sphere," Perkins concluded.
The report can be found here: frc.org/westernintolerance