Religious Freedom Disappears from State Department Human Rights Report

By Jerry Gordan, New En glish Review

May 24th the US State Department Released a delayed annual Report on Human Rights without any reference to Religious Freedom  sections for countries swept up in the Arab Spring and others in the Muslim ummah. This smacks of compliance with Organization of Islamic Cooperation Islamaphobia diktats. Perhaps it is a reflection of last December’s Istanbul Process gathering on UNHRC Res/ 16/18 with OIC member nations, other foreign represetatives, US Department of Justice and Homeland Security repersentatives seeking best practices about ‘combating intelorance’ meaning criticism of Islam. The deracination of religious freedom findings, especially in OIC Muslim countries makes Christian and other endangered religious minorities virtual non-persons with no human rights under Shariah. This action on the part of the State Department means that the only governmental group responding to the lack of religious freedom in the Muslim world is the Congressionaly-chartered US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), that nearly didn’t receive a three year lease on life last December. When that the last USCIRF Annual report on Religlious Freedom was issued, it only covered 2010, just prior to the eruption of the Arab Spring.

Is the Obama Administration sending a message about its priorities on Human rights  – excluding something we thought paramount under our Constitution, religious freedom?

This action is beyond apalling; it smacks of appeasement to the OIC. But that is nothing new from an Administration engaged in dilaogue with the Muslim Brotherhood here at home and more recently at the Saban Center Brookings Instiuttion 9th US -Islam World Forum in Qatar.

This CNS report, “State Department Purges Religious Freedom Section from Its Human Rights Reports” notes the details of what the State Department did and criticisms from among other John Leo outgoing Chairman of the USCIRF and former US diplomat  Thomas Farr:

    The U.S. State Department removed the sections covering religious freedom from the Country Reports on Human Rights that it released on May 24, three months past the statutory deadline Congress set for the release of these reports.

    The new human rights reports–purged of the sections that discuss the status of religious freedom in each of the countries covered–are also the human rights reports that include the period that covered the Arab Spring and its aftermath.

    Thus, the reports do not provide in-depth coverage of what has happened to Christians and other religious minorities in predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East that saw the rise of revolutionary movements in 2011 in which Islamist forces played an instrumental role.

    For the first time ever, the State Department simply eliminated the section of religious freedom in its reports covering 2011 and instead referred the public to the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report – a full two years behind the times – or to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), which was released last September and covers events in 2010 but not 2011.

    Leonard Leo, who recently completed a term as chairman of the USCIRF, says that removing the sections on religious freedom from the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Roghts is a bad idea.

    Since 1998, when Congress created USCIRF, the State Department has been required to issue a separate yearly report specifically on International Religious Freedom.

    But a section reporting on religious freedom has also always been included in the State Department’s legally required annual country-by-country reports on human rights–that is, until now.

    And this is the first year the State Department would have needed to report on the effect the Arab Spring has had on religious freedom in the Middle East–had its reports, as always before, included a section on religious freedom.

    “The commission that I served on has some real concerns about that bifurcation, because the human rights reports receive a lot of attention, and to have pulled religious freedom out of it means that fewer people will obtain information about what’s going on with that particular freedom or right. So you don’t have the whole picture because they split it up now,” Leo told

    Former U.S. diplomat Thomas Farr says it’s possible that the move to totally separate religious freedom from the human rights reports could simply be a bureaucratic maneuver.

    But another possibility is much more likely.

    “The other possibility is the Obama administration is downplaying international religious freedom,” Farr said.

    Farr, who served in the State Department under both Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, was the first director of the Office of International Religious Freedom.

    “I mean, it is important to note here that I do not know–I have no personal knowledge of the logic that went into removing religious freedom from the broader human rights report; but I also have observed during the three-and-a-half years of the Obama administration that the issue of religious freedom has been distinctly downplayed,” Farr said

    Currently a visiting associate professor of religion and world affairs in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Farr directs the program on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy and the Project on Religious Freedom at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown.

    He told that far more resources have been allocated by the Obama administration to other human rights issues than have been directed toward religious freedom.

    “(T)he ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, for example, who is the official charged by the law to lead U.S. religious freedom policy, did not even step foot into her office until two-and-a-half years were gone of a four-year administration,” he said.

    “Whereas other human rights priorities of the administration, such as the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues, were in place within months. So that tells you something.

    “It tells me that this has never been a priority for the Obama administration, and it’s not now,” he said.

    “So it seems to me plausible to at least question the removal of religious freedom from the human rights report, although, as I say, there could be other explanations, less insidious, if you will.”

June 9, 2012 | 24 Comments »

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24 Comments / 24 Comments

  1. ellen Said:

    @ Y.Osher:
    and they cannot support settlement activity throughout Greater Israel.” I feel this infers that when it comes to dealing with evangelicals, Yoffie’s primary concern is political, rather than one which prioritizes Jewish spiritual continuity?

    Yoffie probably thought he was prioritising Jewish spiritual values when he voiced concerns about ‘settlement activity’ funding. Would they continue funding if it was halted? Maybe that was his subtle way of putting the cat amongst the pigeons so that they can come out openly and say it.

    Reform are a minority aren’t they? Most American Jews are Conservative, or so I thought, though I did hear that Reform was popular, more so, though I probably don’t want to believe it.

  2. @ Y.Osher:
    I have to confess that Jan Jaben-Eilon interviewed me on behalf of for the article you cited.
    I thought the article would appear in a more politically neutral publication and I was disturbed by Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie’s two criteria for engaging CUFI : “… they must not attack Muslims and they cannot support settlement activity throughout Greater Israel.” I feel this infers that when it comes to dealing with evangelicals, Yoffie’s primary concern is political, rather than one which prioritizes Jewish spiritual continuity?

    Nevertheless, despite the slant of the publication, stands by our quotes about the situation on the ground in Israel:

    “the overwhelming political and economic support for Israel which comes from the very same parties which have and continue to target Jews for conversion has confused Jewish leadership and has blurred the line between friend and foe.” … warns that while the lines between evangelical and messianic groups remain somewhat distinct outside of Israel, once these groups and leaders come to Israel, the walls come tumbling down, with a blurring of lines and interchanging of definitions.

    JewishIsrael points out the crossover between evangelical “Christian Zionists” and messianic missionary endeavors. “There is a reluctance on the part of rabbinic and Jewish community leadership to draw red lines or issue guidelines to govern the interfaith relationship…It seems that nobody wants to alienate ‘good friends’ who are not aggressively proselytizing but rather are ‘sharing their faith’ through ‘outreach projects’ to a very vulnerable Israel.”

  3. In addition, U.S. International religious freedoms legislation was designed to ensure that the rights of Christians to proselytize would be guaranteed in Israel and the rest of the world.

    Ellen, here are the fruits of this legislation. Messianic growth in Israel, at an alarming rate.

    Messianic Jewish Groups Claim Rapid GrowthGroups professing to be Jewish believers in Jesus increasingly accepted in Israel

    Still, while that line between evangelicals and messianic Jews may be distinct in the United States, in Israel, it has become fuzzier as the country reaches out for political support wherever it can get it.

  4. @ Laura:
    Laura, I appreciate and agree with your points at comments #17 and #18.

    Also Rongrand at #20.

    @CR, I agree with you about the dangers of Marxists…but not that Muslims are “their useful idiots”. Many liberals are, yes; but Muslims have their own destructive ideology, that, as in the Robert Frost poem (Fire and Ice)…is also bad, and will suffice.

  5. @ ellen:

    If you all intend to prevail in the next election, then rise to the occasion and state your case with some intelligence.

    ellen, I am sure Laura won’t waste her time to respond.

    Obama is no more than an “acorn community organizing pamphlet distributing anti-Semite pretending to be a Christian for political reasons who embraces Islam, orchestrated by george soros & co. and the liberal left media and incompetent president.

    He lies and uses fuzzy math in an attempt to cover up his terrible record as president.

    I truly feel sorry for those who drank the obama kool-aid and have yet to recover. Now that show a lack of intelligence.

  6. @ Laura:
    What did Obama do in this case? Did anybody bother reading my previous comment or the USCIRF reports on Egypt and Iran (and other Muslim nations) which were indeed issued in March 2012 and appear on the UNHRC site? Are you blind to the facts that Mr. Gordan’s article is not accurate?

    Can the folks on this thread thoughtfully debate an issue, or has everything become an Obama conspiracy?

    If you all intend to prevail in the next election, then rise to the occasion and state your case with some intelligence.

  7. Its more than obvious that the Obama administration did this in deference to the muslim brotherhood which it is courting. And its no coincidence that this was done a few months after Hillary met with the OIC behind closed doors. It is evil that the administration would throw persecuted religious minorities in muslim countries under the bus. But certainly not surprising since Obama has thrown Israel and others under the bus to appease islam.

  8. @ BlandOatmeal:

    he Marxists are a laughably insignificant element.

    You show a profound lack of understanding of who the enemy is!

    There are many groups who hate Christians and Jews–but those who are of a Marxist bent and their useful idiots [Muslims, et al.] are the main players in the USA, Europe and many, but not every other place.

  9. @ Ted Belman:
    Sorry for the four-letter words, Ted. I just wanted to be heard, and it seemed that the only way to do so was to use profanity. The “spam-blocker” seems infinitely more concerned with political correctness, than with good, old-fashioned politeness. Also, I don’t believe what you said about how the blocker operates: As long as I was trying to post the comic video, the blocker went after me. Having thus “identified me as a spammer”, according to your logic, it should certainly have blocked my next posting with the F___ word in it. It didn’t, so you will have to come up with some other reason to convince me.

  10. I don’t understand, I’m reading the 2012 State Department international religious freedoms reports on UNHRC site and Arab countries are included with updated reports on religious freedoms. For example,
    Here’s the report on Egypt
    and here’s one on Iran
    Iraq, Bahrain, Indonesia and others are also covered, but I haven’t checked those reports yet.

    I think this year, they have listed “countries of particular concern”, rather than list every country.
    Thankfully, I note that Israel is not listed this “particular concern” list.

    We have to remember that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently teetered on the brink of extinction due to a funding crisis, so policy changes may have been made and for fiscal reasons they may have limited their reporting to “countries of particular concern” The Christian world was especially up in arms over the fiscal emergency, because church persecution in the world is reportedly rampant and the USCIRF was born to monitor and handle international violations of religious freedom. But is there another agenda?

    In 1998 under Bill Clinton’s administration, it was Orthodox American Jews, together with Evangelical Christians, who lobbied for the International Religious Freedoms Act. Since that bill was passed and USCIRF established, yearly reports have been issued on the status of religious freedoms in the world. Israel and the “occupied territories” have, up until this year, been covered in those reports. In recent years, with regard to Israel, those State Department reports have been hypercritical of everything from Shabbat observance to Jewish marriage counseling, divorce law, burial rights and the treatment of “messianic Jews”. See Jewish Israel reports here and here It makes one wonder if censuring circumcision is next.

    In addition, U.S. International religious freedoms legislation was designed to ensure that the rights of Christians to proselytize would be guaranteed in Israel and the rest of the world. The Religious Freedoms Act of 1998 has indeed been used to prevent Israel from adopting and enforcing counter-missionary legislation.

    The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom has been accused of bias. Critics have said that the commission has disproportionately focused its efforts on Christian issues. The make-up of the committee seemed to be indicative of a problem. While the commission’s members are appointed by the president and leaders of both parties in Congress, as of 2010 the committee included two Catholics, two evangelical Protestants, one Southern Baptist, one Orthodox Christian, one Jew and one Muslim.

    So it seems that this may be more complex than Mr. Gordon reports.

  11. C.R. Said:

    The reason they have removed religious freedom–is because they hate the God of the Bible–and they will support any group or individual who stands in opposition to the God of the Bible–Islam is useful to that end!

    Wrong. The reason it was removed was that the Freedom of religion reports would not have to give low marks to the Arab countries or highlight their intolerance.

  12. @ BlandOatmeal:
    Once the spammer identifies you as a spammer,because of something you said or did, all your posts go to spam. It takes time to retrain the spammer to give you a pass. I can’t interfere with it at all. So please no profanity.

  13. I got zapped again, not even moderated. I promised my wife I would avoid profanity, but go truck yourself, Israpundit!

  14. @ C.R.:

    Its largely American Marxists [Barack H. Obama, et al.] who have pushed, promoted and enabled this evil!

    I don’t agree. There are lots of groups who are of one mind in opposing bible- (read, “Torah”-; it makes no never-mind to me) believing Christians and Jews:

    1. Marxists of every stripe (including Communists and Socialists, but of course, Felix Quigley excepted)

    2. Muslims, all kinds

    3. Hindus

    4. Secular Atheists, Darwinists, Eco-nuts, etc.

    5. Darwinists

    6. Pagans, believers in witches and fairies, etc.

    7. Nihilists, Anarchists, etc.

    8. Many Red-White-Blue Rah Rah USA USA crazies

    9. Flat-out lunatics.

    If it weren’t for the Christians and Jews in the world to help them focus, all these people would be going for one another’s jugulars. The Marxists are a laughably insignificant element. The Bible says it simply, in Tanakh as well as the NT: Your enemies will be those of your own household.

  15. The reason they have removed religious freedom–is because they hate the God of the Bible–and they will support any group or individual who stands in opposition to the God of the Bible–Islam is useful to that end!

    This among other things–is being done in preparation for the oppression of Christians and Jews–and everyone else they do not approve of–these Marxists are mentally ill–they do not care how many people they hurt or kill to achieve their objective.

  16. “Arab spring” = massive fraud. Just the usual CIA subversion of human rights with puppet nazi governments.