Yesterday the State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report for 2014. A wide range of U.S. government agencies and offices use the reports for such efforts as shaping policy and conducting diplomacy. The Secretary of State also uses the reports to help determine which countries have engaged in or tolerated “particularly severe violations” of religious freedom in order to designate “countries of particular concern.”
A major concern addressed in this year’s report is the violent opposition to religious freedom by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). David Saperstein, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom (IRF) is quoted in the report’s introduction saying,
There is an absolute and unequivocal need to give voice to the religiously oppressed in every land afraid to speak of what they believe in; who face death and live in fear, who worship in underground churches, mosques or temples, who feel so desperate that they flee their homes to avoid killing and persecution simply because they love God in their own way or question the existence of God.
The report highlights numerous examples of state-sponsored persecution of Christians, including those in Iran and China: