Russia has been added to the list of egregious violators of religious freedom by an American agency that is mandated by law to monitor liberty of belief around the world, and denounce persecutors. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said its view was reinforced by a recent Russian court ruling to outlaw the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
The agency’s bleak assessment of Russia is the most striking development in a generally pessimistic survey of the multiple, dreadful ways in which liberty of conscience and worship is being curtailed by the world’s nations, and also by terrorist groups. Under America’s religious-liberty legislation, two institutions are instructed to keep a close eye on freedom of belief: the State Department and USCIRF, a panel of eminent members jointly nominated by Congress and the White House. The commission, whose role is advisory, often takes a rather more stringent view than the Department.