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August 1, 2012

International Religious Freedom

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

Earlier this week, the US State Department released its annual report on the plight of international religious freedom. From the National Review blog, The Corner, commentator Thomas F. Farr writes the following:

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton gave her strongest speech to date on why religious liberty is important, not only to the victims of persecution, but to America’s self-understanding and its fundamental interests abroad. Among the rhetorical gems: “”For the United States, of course, religious freedom is a cherished constitutional value, a strategic national interest, and a foreign-policy priority.”

Religious freedom is “not granted to us by any government, rather it is the responsibility of government to protect” it. Religious freedom is “an essential element of human dignity and of secure, thriving societies [and is] statistically linked with economic development and democratic stability.”Even more pointedly, in responding to a questioner, the Secretary of State said that the United States must send a clear message to persecuting nations, especially those such as Egypt who are struggling to make democracy stable and lasting: Without religious freedom “you will not be successful, you will not be stable, you will not be secure, and you will certainly not have a sustainable democracy.”

Of course, in my mind, the question that this raises is whether or not anyone in the Department of Health and Human Services reads these reports? Currently, this Department in the Obama Administration is forcing religious institutions to reject their own religious beliefs — reducing religious freedom from government tyranny — in order to keep to mandates of a health care law.

If we can promote religious freedom in countries around the globe — something that is truly needed, especially in nations where Christians are being used as target practice for Muslim extremists — I do think our own government should be doing the same on our own shores.

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