Update (May 22): RNS examines whether the IRF report "needs more teeth" by including an updated list of Countries of Particular Concern.
Among the most worrisome themes in international religious freedom this year? The use–and proliferation–of blasphemy and apostasy laws.
So says the U.S. Department of State in its 2012 International Religious Freedom Report, which was released today. The report reveals widespread "negative trends [that] often cut across national and regional boundaries," including the use of anti-conversion laws.
The State Department notes that "such laws often violate freedoms of religion and expression and often are applied in a discriminatory manner."
The State Department's report largely lines up with the analysis provided by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan government commission, last month. USCIRF's report highlighted Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, and North Korea as the world's worst violators of religious ...1