US Gov Reports on Religious Liberty Receive Criticism

A May 20, 2013 report issued by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor of the US State Department has received criticism and coverage for the manner in which it presents religious freedoms in Ukraine and Russia. While in general, the report has received fair to positive coverage in the Ukrainian religious media.  Yet noted English language Russian media outlets, such as Interfax-Religion, have pointed out the hypocrisy of the report. Interesting in this light is the harassment by the US Government’s IRS against religious and pro-life organizations that have been reported on recently. For example, the IRS wanted to mandate that pro-life organizations ‘present both sides’, or the ‘content of prayers’.

Perhaps one of the differences between the two cases is that religious freedom is considered sacrosanct in the US, while such principles have had a spotted history at best in Russia and former dependencies. Perhaps these recent violations of traditional constitutional principles in the United States will give pause to American citizens to consider their own country.  If the United States cannot maintain the absolute highest standards of religious liberty, then, how do we expect to be an example to other nations?

That being said, such reports issued do contain, in general, very clear reviews of problems in Ukraine, Russia, and former Soviet bloc nations. As recently reported on, the ROAC, possibly the largest True Orthodox Christian synod in the Russian Federation, is having to fight to keep its church buildings, and the relics of saints it has held uncontested for years.  Resisting harassment from the government authorities in these nations is a delicate process; it would seem that, especially in the case of Russia, that the national government would consider the presence of True Orthodoxy to be fundamentally beneficial to the nation. Yet, governments have made atrocious mistakes before; for example, the persecution of the True Orthodox in Greece in the 30s and 40s, among which you found the most pro-monarchy and anti-communist people. How was such persecution beneficial to Greece? Indeed, it set the stage for a massive cultural decline (with Greece later having a civil war between nationalists and communists, and then later dictatorships, and the society’s decline into mass hedonism and the highest abortion rates of the EU)?