Among the biggest threats to religious freedom worldwide are blasphemy laws, the State Department said in its annual religious freedom report, released Wednesday.
“I want to highlight this year the chilling, sometimes deadly effect of blasphemy and apostasy laws in many places of the world, as well as laws that purport to protect religious sentiments from defamation,” the Ambassador at-Large for International Religious Freedom David Saperstein said at the release of Wednesday’s report.
Every year, the State Department publishes a report on the state of religious freedom worldwide, as mandated in the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. It documents the religious liberty situation in almost 200 countries and territories, reporting the worst abuses while noting positive steps taken to protect the rights of citizens.
“The purpose of this annual report is not to lecture,” Antony Blinken, Deputy Secretary of State, said Wednesday while introducing the report. “It is to inform, to encourage, and ultimately to persuade.”
Religious freedom “is written into the founding DNA of the United States, renewing and strengthening our nation with every generation,” he said.
“Every country has an obligation to respect religious liberty and freedom of conscience,” he added. “Societies tend to be stronger, wealthier, safer, and more stable when their citizens fully enjoy the rights to which they are entitled.”
The 2015 report, released Wednesday, highlighted the threat posed by blasphemy laws and apostasy laws to the religious freedom and human rights of citizens.
Read more at Catholic News Agency.