U.S. watchdog agency releases annual list of religious liberty abusers

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  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 2, 2013 12:00 p.m.

    @Ksampow – “Those who truly follow their religion will practice love.”

    I have no doubt this is true for many millions of believers, but it is simply naive to think this applies to all. And the truth not all religions are the same on this score.

    A religion like Jainism for example contains zero teachings that would lead someone to hatred or violence. In fact the more fundamentalist a Jain gets, the more anti-violent they become, to the point of going to great length to avoid killing bugs.

    By no account can the same be said regarding Islam. Sadly, the kind of Islam practiced by Al Qaeda can be found in these books.

    @Ksampow - “Since no one is perfect, there will always be conflict until the Messiah comes again.”

    What if was misinterpreted or misunderstood? What if there is no one who will save us from ourselves and the world is what we make of it?

    If so, shouldn’t we be terrified that there are millions of people today who are so eager for the messiah to return that they might bring up their own prophetic beliefs (i.e., the destruction of civilization)?

  • ksampow Farr West, Utah
    May 2, 2013 11:29 a.m.

    Tyler D.

    Jesus' message of love admittedly helped
    Religions do not cause conflict. People cause conflict. Those who truly follow their religion will practice love. Even Islam teaches love and respect. It is only when people use religion for selfish purposes that these problems arise. Since no one is perfect, there will always be conflict until the Messiah comes again. In the meantime the more people follow His example, the better off we will be.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    May 2, 2013 10:50 a.m.

    @ lost and rock: You are half right - where the Supreme Court cannot make laws, there is no law prohibiting prayer in school.

    And no one is claiming there is.

    What there is, is a Constitutional Amendment (the First Amendment) that prohibits Congress from favoring (i.e. "respecting") one religion over another or interfering with an individual's religious worship. There is also another Amendment (the Fourteenth) which extended the protections/prohibitions of the First Amendment to the states.

    Public schools are funded by the state through taxes. Public schools cannot favor one religion over another nor can they force students to worship in a particular manner.

    This is not a law created by the Supreme Court - this is the Constitution being upheld by the Supreme Court.

    Students, teachers, administrators, random people walking the halls are all more than welcome to engage in any form of prayer they prefer anytime they would like - they cannot, however, violate the First Amendment and force others to pray or worship with them. Oh - and they cannot violate laws about being disruptive or interfering with the education and work of others, but that is a side note and is not about religious worship.

  • George New York, NY
    May 1, 2013 6:33 p.m.

    @the rock
    A ruling is not a law a ruling is a finding by the courts that a law (in this case as the constitution) was violated. The court ruling from the SCOTUS was due to the schools that were in question violating the students first amendment rights which being a constitutional (law) question is perfectly within the jurisdiction of the SCOTUS to rule on (not making a law but enforcing it), again 7th grade civics. If the congress disagrees with the ruling there is a process for them to follow to try to change the constitution that’s how our system works.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 1, 2013 4:40 p.m.

    Concerning Prayer in School:

    The very first paragraph after the preamble in the constitution states:

    "All legislative authority granted herein belongs to a congress consisting of a house of representatives and a senate."

    In as much as "All Legislative Authority" belongs to congress there is no (Nata, zip, zero) legislative authority anywhere else. The President cannot pass a law. The courts cannot create a law.

    The order from the SCOTUS is not a law. It was not passed by congress or signed by the President. If you violated the SCOTUS's order to not pray in school what would they charge you with? You did not break a law. It does not exist. They would have to punish you for not violating a law, or for breaking a "not law".

    The courts had no authority to prohibit prayer in school.

  • George New York, NY
    May 1, 2013 3:21 p.m.

    The SCOTUS did not ban students from having prayer on their own on campus(i.e. prayer circles) the SCOTUS banned school endorsed prayers during class times and at school events which is clearly what I stated in my last post so maybe rather than pretend I do not understand you should slow down and understand my comment.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 1, 2013 2:56 p.m.

    Hamath – “Religion per say is not the cause.”

    This is simply not true - no, not the misspelling of “per se” but the statement itself.

    Of course group identity and tribalism are fundamentally divisive, but no ideology gets the free pass religion does.

    All human interactions ultimately come down to a choice between conversation or conflict (or war). Religion is the only area of discourse where all someone has to say is “my faith tells me…” and the conversation is over.

    And it is no surprise that all the top countries on the list are either dictatorships or Muslim. Much of the Islamic worldview is simply antithetical to the values our country was founded on. We can bury our heads in the sands of moral & cultural relativism or we can wake up and recognize it for what it (religion in general, and Islam in particular) is – inherently totalitarian, divisive, intolerant, adverse to freedom, etc, etc, etc…

    The fact that the West has tempered many of these tendencies is not because of religion but in spite of it (although Jesus’ message of love admittedly helped).

  • DHan Syracuse, UT
    May 1, 2013 1:57 p.m.

    Nigeria? From my understanding, it's half Christian and half Muslim.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 1, 2013 1:32 p.m.

    I think you've misinterpreted the Rock's comment. there is a difference between you being forced to participate in someone else's prayer and the SCOTUS banning school prayers.

  • George New York, NY
    May 1, 2013 12:45 p.m.

    The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life recent research found that more often than not that religions were the cause of hostilities towards other religions not secularism. The their research also found that social hostilities involving religion are 3.5 times higher in countries with very high government favoritism of religion than in countries with low levels of favoritism. The study found that some government restrictions have a stronger association with social hostilities than others. Government policies or actions that clearly favor one religion over others have the strongest association with social hostilities involving religion. It is time to focus on the real problem which is those that spread the idea this expansive view that their religious rights are only protected when they can force the rest of society to live by their religious dictates.

  • George New York, NY
    May 1, 2013 12:36 p.m.

    So how is my being forced to participate in your religions prayer that has been elevated above all others as worthy of being endorsed by the school if I am a school student of a different religion and required to be their not a violation of my religious rights? I think the current law that allows students to have private prayers or student run prayers outside the classroom is much more in keeping with the first amendment than forcing ones religion be elevated above all others.
    As to your question about the Supreme Court do we really need to go back to 7th grade civics and explain the three branches of government again?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 1, 2013 11:18 a.m.


    "Religious freedom is not high on the President's list as that is one reason people came to this country. He has not fostered that type of partnership with America's religious community...."

    Nor should he. Government partnering with religion is antithetical to separation of church and state which is how Thomas Jefferson interpreted the 1st Amendment. So do I.

    America’s concept of religious freedom is not ubiquitous throughout the world. There are countries where religious factions still shoot at each other with real bullets. Heads of state often have their hands full dealing with that. America has a moral duty to promote human rights in the world but it has neither the authority nor the capability to impose its codes of religious freedom on anyone.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    May 1, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Re: Ultra Bob

    Wasn't that just the intolerance of some people rather than the religion itself? If not, too bad that some other religions (Christian I presume) would forbid their members from even associating with those of other faiths. Hopefully that is changing for the better in America.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 1, 2013 10:07 a.m.

    Buena Vista, VA

    Within a religion, religious liberty is the last thing you would find. In countries where religion and government are the same, you could get killed for proposing religious liberty.

    As a young boy in Kansas, I recall that my playmates were prohibited by their religion to attend any religious service not their own. Later when I got married, those same friends were not able to come to the church wedding.

    The problem with religions is their economic impact. When you mess with some ones gold they don’t like you.

  • SCfan clearfield, UT
    May 1, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    Interesting that China and Saudi Arabia are on the list, but there "diplomatic" concerns for places like Vietnam and Turkey. I guess the Saudis and Chinese just laugh it off as no big deal being on some list. Clearly countries like that will continue to do their own thing regardless of any criticism by a U.S. commission. In fact I'll bet our State Department agrees to a deal that there will be no real pressure on those countries, but just to placate the human rights crowd they accept being on the list. An obvious game played all the time in world diplomacy.

  • Tilka PORTLAND, OR
    May 1, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    Something is wrong when an organization who is dedicated to call out countries for lack of religious freedom succumbs to political pressure to leave some countries off the list. Also, why isn't Israel on the list?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 1, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    “Religious freedom is a core human right, one that is "intertwined" with all other human rights, "most notably freedom of expression, association and assembly."

    All of that is true but the U.S. should treat the issue of religious freedom as one aspect of human rights. Keep the focus on that.

  • RG Buena Vista, VA
    May 1, 2013 8:53 a.m.

    @ Ultra Bob,
    I don't think anyone suggests the US should try to tell other nations how to "run their religions." Rather, we encourage other nations to give their citizens religious liberty.

    @ Hutterite: I am friends with many people of many different faiths; religion certainly hasn't wiped out what we have in common. Maybe in your life it is different, but please don't speak for others.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 1, 2013 8:24 a.m.

    Here is my list of religious liberty abusers:

    1. Hollywood
    2. The Old Media
    3. ACLU
    4. The Democrat Party
    5. Obama (Contraceptive and Abortion Mandate)
    6. US Supreme Court

    and not necessarily in that order

    "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

    If congress were to pass a law prohibiting prayer in school, how would it not violate the first amendment?

    Only congress can pass a law. How in the name of all that is holy did the Supreme Court prohibit prayer in school when congress could not have done it?

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    May 1, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    When the US subsidizes foreign governments there is more than an assumption that human rights will be observed. We have given aid to too many countries who have used that aid to suppress minorities such as the Coptic Christians in Egypt and Arabs in Israel. We often function under the fantasy that sprinkling no-strings attached fairy dust (money) over the world will result in a better place.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 1, 2013 7:45 a.m.

    High on the list of things our government should not be doing is the telling other nations how to run their religions. Our government is restricted from telling Americans how to run their religion by the Constitution. That notion should be doubly important in international matters.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    May 1, 2013 5:31 a.m.

    @ Hutterite

    Religion is merely place holder in your sentence. It is not the answer that you think it is. You could insert a lot of different large "group" ideas there.
    Nations and Nationalism wipe out all we have in common
    Political indoctrination wipes out all we have in common
    Anytime you associate yourself with a group you are in danger of putting yourself at enmity (separation) with others.

    Cliches in high school wipe out all the high schoolers have in common.

    It's pride, selfishness, distrust, etc. that wipe it out. Not the group itself. Religion per say is not the cause. Neither is nationalism, politics, nor the tendency to associate yourself with friends.

    It's the members of the group that do the wiping out. All of us everywhere must learn to respect and honor what others believe and think. We must learn to be inclusive and not exclusive as much as possible.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    April 30, 2013 9:53 p.m.

    Religion singlehandedly wipes out all we have in common.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    April 30, 2013 9:47 p.m.

    Religious freedom is not high on the President's list as that is one reason people came to this country. He has not fostered that type of partnership with America's religious community. He sort of stifles people's religious behaviors, thoughts, abilities and charity in his foreign and domestic relationships.