Friday, May 1, 2009

U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom Identifies Countries Which Officially Persecute Latter-Day Saints In Their 2009 Annual Report

On May 1st, 2009, the Deseret News reported that the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom released its annual report on the state of religious liberty around the world. They identify a "warning" list of "countries of particular concern" where religious liberty is actively suppressed, and a "watch" list of other countries where although religious liberty isn't officially suppressed, assaults on religious liberty are tolerated.

The full 269-page report can be viewed HERE in PDF format. It may take a minute or so to completely load.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is mentioned four times in the report, as follows:

-- Acknowledgement that the LDS faith is one of many listed as religions understood with expertise by the commission and its staff.

-- Cuba: "The government has not prevented activities of the Baha'is and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), groups that are not officially registered, and has registered groups that do not belong to the [Cuban Council of Churches]." But the fact that the LDS Church is not officially registered makes it vulnerable to suppression at any time at the behest of the authorities without warning.

-- Russia: "The 1997 religion law gives 10 citizens the right to form a religious association, which, in turn, provides them the legal right to a house of worship. Yet, despite this legal guarantee, building or renting worship space remains difficult for a number of religious communities. Jehovah's Witnesses, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and Pentecostal congregations face particular problems, as do Orthodox groups that do not recognize the Moscow Patriarchate, Molokans and Old Believer communities."

-- Venezuela: "In 2005, 219 U.S. missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also withdrew from he country after having difficulties obtaining visas to conduct its activities." Note that Venezuela respected religious liberty before Hugo Chavez established his dictatorship.

This, of course, doesn't mean that restrictions against Mormons haven't been levied elsewhere. In particular, the relationship between the LDS Church and the state of Israel has been tempestuous at times, primarily because of Jewish hypersensitivity against Mormon "missionizing". But this is also representative of a Jewish bias against all of Christianity in general; some Orthodox extremists have even engaged in the mass burning of New Testaments and in the practice of spitting on Christians in the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israeli government has officially condemned such practices, which is one of the reasons why Israel escapes being "listed".

Countries on the "warning" list (designated as CPCs) include Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam. Note how many of these countries are Muslim-dominated; Islam and tolerance are not synonymous.

Countries on the "watch" list include Afghanistan, Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Indonesia, Laos, Russia, Somalia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Venezuela.

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