We continue to urge all Greek Orthodox Christians and all people of good will to continue to pray for persecuted Christians worldwide, that God will comfort the afflicted and illuminate the persecutors with the light of His truth, so that they end their persecution.
“U.S. Dept. of State Releases 2022 International Religious Freedom Report,” International Christian Concern, May 16, 2023:
5/16/2023 United States (International Christian Concern)—The U.S. Department of State released its 2022 Report on International Religious Freedom (IRF). The report, which analyzes the status of religious freedom in every country, is published annually and is an important tool to increase understanding of persecution in its many forms worldwide.
At the release of the report, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated, “We defend the right to believe or to not believe, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but also because of the extraordinary good that people of faith can do in our societies and around the world to promote peace, to care for the sick, to protect our planet, to expand opportunity for underserved communities, and so much more.”
The State Department noted that some countries showed improvement in religious freedom in 2022, including Brazil, which passed legislation making it a crime to carry out discriminatory acts on religious practices. Lawmakers in Brazil also codified religious freedom protections for followers of Afro-Brazilian religions, which are minority religious groups who have historically faced discrimination for their beliefs in the country.
And in the Central African Republic, authorities continued to prosecute cases of religious-based violence and other human rights violations against civilians following the military coup in 2003. In July, Idriss Ibrahim Khalil was arrested for his war crimes which led to the killing of multiple civilians, including a massacre in 2018 that left over 100 Christians dead.
Among the isolated cases of improvement, however, is a global trend that speaks to the deteriorating situation for religious minorities around the world. For example, the IRF report raised deep concern for the situation in Iran, where the government routinely convicted and executed protestors on charges of spreading anti-Islamic propaganda. Reports show that these prisoners were given punishments, including amputations, flogging, solitary confinement, and the death penalty.
In Nicaragua, the Catholic church faced government and societal discrimination, including arbitrary arrests, withholding tax exemptions, death threats, and unlawful entry. The anti-Catholic sentiment was further pushed by President Daniel Ortega, who called for the arrest of priests and bishops across the country, labeling them as “criminals” and “coup-plotters.”
And in Nigeria, the report highlighted the ongoing violence against Muslims and Christians, particularly in the northern region. Terrorist groups, militant herdsmen, and criminal gangs continue to target and attack religious minorities, all while the Nigerian government turns a blind eye to their suffering. …