State Department Chides Eight Countries on Religious Freedom
According to the Religion News Service, the State Department designated eight nations as the most serious violators of religious freedom, naming the same countries as the Bush administration: Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. All but Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan also received sanctions. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has issued previous reports on religious freedom, but it was the first time the Obama administration has published its list of the worst violators. "It is our core conviction that religious tolerance is one of the essential elements not only of a sustainable democracy but of a peaceful society that respects the rights and dignity of each individual," Clinton said. The Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook, the administration's new ambassador at large for religious freedom, has plans to visit China and Saudi Arabia and work on a U.N. resolution to counter religious intolerance through education, interfaith dialogue and public debate.