"The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom reflects a broad understanding of religious freedom, one that begins with private beliefs and communal religious expression, but doesn’t end there:"
The U.S. Department of State has issued its 2010 Report documenting the status of religious freedom around the world between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010.
In her statement introducing the document, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that "the Annual Report on International Religious Freedom reflects a broad understanding of religious freedom, one that begins with private beliefs and communal religious expression, but doesn’t end there:"
"Religious freedom also includes the right to raise one’s children in one’s faith, to share one’s faith peacefully with others, to publish religious materials without censorship, to change one’s religion – by choice, not coercion, and to practice no religion at all. And it includes the rights of faith communities to come together in social service and public engagement in the broader society."
The Report focuses on the governments of one 198 countries. It documents activity aimed toward protecting and promoting religious freedom. The United States commends the initiatives of numerous governments and civil society actors to foster interfaith dialogue and collaboration. Such efforts can lead to improvements in religious freedom and the mitigation of a religion-based conflict.
On the other hand, the Report also documents government activity that could contribute to religious repression.
Restriction of religious freedom has many faces. It may take the form of a government declaring some religious groups as enemies of the state due to a perceived challenge to its rule. Or, the government may be hostile toward nontraditional and minority religious groups. The government may turn a blind eye toward societal abuse of such groups, or persecute them officially by passing repressive legislation. And finally, the government may declare such groups illegitimate and dangerous to society.
By issuing the report, said Secretary of State Clinton, "the United States doesn't intend to act as a judge of other countries or hold [itself] out as a perfect example. But the United States cares about religious freedom.
"We have worked hard to enforce religious freedom. We want to see religious freedom available universally," she said. "And we want to advocate for the brave men and women who, around the world, persist in practicing their beliefs in the face of hostility and violence."