WASHINGTON—Twenty years after the International Religious Freedom Act was passed, religious freedom is under fire more than ever.
Six countries were added in 2017 to the State Department’s list of nations of particular concern for violating religious freedoms; the 2016 report had 10 listed. In 2000, when the first report was published after the International Religious Freedom Act was passed in 1998, there were just three countries cited.
“It’s an interesting confluence where we are right now, where we had a burst of religious freedom after the fall of the [Berlin] Wall, after the fall of communism. It was like freedom was really on the move,” said Sam Brownback, U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom. “And then, kind of as a backlash to that, a number of countries decided, ‘We’ve got a little too much freedom here.’