Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Baptist religious freedom commission "concerned about people within" Orthodox Churches

Expand Messages
  • Fr. John-Brian
    [excerpt] ...It is not the Orthodox churches that we are concerned about,” Young [dean of George Washington University’s law school] said. “What we are
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 7, 2004
    • 0 Attachment
      [excerpt]
      "...It is not the Orthodox churches that we are concerned about,” Young
      [dean of George Washington University’s law school] said. “What we are
      concerned about is people within those traditions, or without those
      traditions, who may use those arguments that they derive, correctly or
      incorrectly, from a religious basis or any other ideology and use those as
      justification for intolerance and repression of others. It is not in any way
      unique to the Islamic world.”
      [complete article below]

      Religious freedom commission showing results after five years, members say

      By TOM STRODE
      Baptist Press

      Published: June 3, 2004

      WASHINGTON (BP)—Religious liberty has gained a higher profile in the United
      States and other countries during the last five years even as global
      persecution persists, members of the U.S. Commission on International
      Religious Freedom said in presenting their fifth annual report May 12.

      The USCIRF, a bipartisan panel of nine members, reported on its work during
      the last year and provided an analysis of the status of religious freedom in
      various countries. Members of the commission, which was established by a
      1998 law as an independent body to advise the White House and Congress, can
      see results from their work, some said at a Washington news conference.

      USCIRF commissioner Richard Land said he thinks “there’s no question that
      this issue is far higher on our government’s radar screen and the radar
      screen of other governments around the world because of the existence of
      this commission.”

      For one thing, the International Religious Freedom Act’s requirement of the
      State Department to issue a yearly report on religious freedom has
      transformed some of the work of U.S. diplomats, said Land, president of the
      Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

      “What’s been the result is there has been the development of a significant
      cadre of career diplomatic corps officers who have been sensitized and made
      aware of this issue and of the abuses that are taking place around the world
      in a way that was not prevalent prior to 1998,” Land said. “[T]hey are
      listening to us, and they are listening more as they become more sensitized
      to the problem as a result of preparing these reports and having to interact
      with the people who have been victimized in the various countries where they
      serve.”

      Developments in Sudan as a result of pressure from the United States and the
      willingness of President Bush and other officials to raise the issue of
      religious freedom on visits to China are examples of such actions, Young
      said.

      The USCIRF reiterated the countries where persecution of religious adherents
      remains severe. It repeated its February recommendation to Secretary of
      State Colin Powell that he re-designate Burma, China, Iran, North Korea and
      Sudan as “countries of particular concern,” a label reserved for the worst
      violators of religious liberty. The panel reinforced its recommendation of
      the addition of Eritrea, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and
      Vietnam to the CPC list. Powell has yet to name this year’s CPC designees.

      The USCIRF did not recommend Iraq return to the CPC list after last year’s
      United States-led effort toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime.

      The commission remains concerned about developments regarding religious
      freedom in Iraq and Afghanistan, where a radical Islamic government was
      deposed by another effort spearheaded by the United States, it said in its
      report.

      The Afghan constitution adopted in January has a “crucial—and potentially
      fatal—flaw,” the panel said in its report. “Though the constitution provides
      for the freedom of non-Muslim groups to exercise their various faiths, it
      does not contain explicit protection for the right to freedom of thought,
      conscience and religion that would extend to every individual—particularly
      to individual Muslims in Afghanistan, the overwhelmingly majority of the
      country’s population.”

      This failure, compounded by a clause that says “no law can be contrary to
      the beliefs and provisions of Islam” and a judicial system willing to
      enforce a strict view of the religion, is already causing problems,
      according to the report.

      In Iraq, a hopeful sign for religious liberty occurred in March when freedom
      of conscience and religion was embraced in the release of the Transitional
      Administrative Law, the commission reported. The panel is concerned about
      language in the document that says laws cannot be opposed to the
      “universally agreed upon tenets of Islam.”

      Communist and Muslim-controlled governments largely, though not totally,
      comprise the world’s most severe violators of religious freedom. Not all
      Islamic states are repressive, some commissioners said.

      “Islam is a many-splintered thing,” Land said, quoting an unnamed source.
      “Some expressions of Islam clearly have a problem with practicing religious
      freedom for people who disagree with them, and others don’t. You do have
      some overwhelmingly majority Islamic countries that are committed to
      religious freedom and in some cases have it.”

      There are a “number of countries with majority Islamic populations that have
      obviously made efforts” in the area of religious freedom, Young said, citing
      Morocco, Jordan, Indonesia and Malaysia.

      Focusing on Islam alone would be a diversion from “something very central,”
      said Young, dean of George Washington University’s law school.

      “The central point is it is not Islam about which this commission is or
      should be concerned. It is not Hinduism. It is not the Orthodox churches
      that we are concerned about,” Young said. “What we are concerned about is
      people within those traditions, or without those traditions, who may use
      those arguments that they derive, correctly or incorrectly, from a religious
      basis or any other ideology and use those as justification for intolerance
      and repression of others. It is not in any way unique to the Islamic world.”

      The commission also repeated its “watch list” of countries that should be
      closely monitored, although their religious freedom violations do not reach
      the level for recommendation as CPCs. The “watch list” consists of Belarus,
      Cuba, Egypt, Georgia, Indonesia, Laos, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.

      The USCIRF’s 2004 report may be obtained online at www.uscirf.gov.

      Copyright © 2001-2004, Florida Baptist Witness,
      http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/2671.article.print
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.