Worldwide Religious Freedom Under Threat from the US

Worldwide Religious Freedom Under Threat from the US Author: Vladimir Odintsov for Journal NEO

Religion has long been a vital facet of the information and propaganda war Washington is waging on its adversaries.

One of the White House’s latest ploys for playing the religion card in foreign politics was outlined in a special report presented in February 2010 by experts from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. As early as 1998, Congress passed The International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) to validate such foreign policies. This also birthed the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). USCIRF is an advisory group appointed by Congress and the White House, now working with the US State Department. Its goal, according to its declaration, is “to monitor, analyze and report on threats to freedom of religion or belief abroad”. However, although the US President did not appoint a special advisor on worldwide religious affairs to the National Security Council as recommended, he went a step further by entrusting this responsibility to a higher-level official, namely, the head of the NSC. This flings wide the floodgates for implementing whatever resources the White House sees fit in matters pertaining to foreign religious policy.

This is why the seemingly endless list of the US State Department’s so-called “interests” has since 1998 included freedom of religion outside of the US. Every year, members of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (currently including 10 members) analyzes the religious climate in nations that warrant the concerns of the Commission. The Commission’s annual reports on this issue recommend that the Secretary of State dub certain nations higher concerns to the United States due to religious freedom violations, which is sufficient basis for restrictive measures and sanctions by the United States under the law passed in 1998.

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This law and the measures based on it have on multiple occasions served as an instrument wielded in the propaganda and intelligence war between the United States and its counterparts for years. It is also undeniable evidence of how the US Government extrapolates its legislations on the outside world, without taking into account the unique specifics of any given state. This can be stated as nothing less than a violation of international agreements and another feather in the cap of their global hegemonic agenda.

In the interest of providing his measures to supposedly protect religious freedom in other countries some international validation, in late May US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in Washington the birth of a new Union. This being the International Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA) looking painfully similar to the law of 1998, which hardly seems accidental. Twenty-six countries have already been dragged into this alliance.

However, despite the positive assertions of Pompeo on the creation of a new inter-religious alliance, at the initial stage there are objective doubts about Washington’s seemingly humanistic endeavors. It would seem that since quite a few inter-ethnic conflicts are continually raging worldwide, believers of all confessions would benefit from peaceful solutions. But who gave the United States, having itself recently set in motion numerous religious conflicts in Yugoslavia, Ukraine, the Middle East and Asia, the right to lead such an alliance? An alliance, by the way, formed in clear contrast to existing international religious institutions such as the Vatican, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other internationally recognized confessional associations. With this act, isn’t Washington simply demonstrating its intention to get a firmer grip on inter-religious issues world-wide?

This notion is confirmed by brazen absence in the alliance of such an important player in world religion as the Vatican, playing two roles on the international stage: the city-state and the seat of the Holy See, which manages more than a billion Catholics around the world.

Another thing just screaming for attention as part of this new “organization”, is the de facto NATO occupied Kosovo and Metohija. Here, after Washington acquired a foothold Pristina (Kosovo), unbridled persecution has broken out, to this day graced with no response from Washington whatsoever. Albanian radical groups torched Orthodox churches and centuries-old monasteries, while Orthodox priests were targeted as well as local believers, with Christian churches left desecrated. Moreover, those who were killing Orthodox believers in Northern Kosovo yesterday and selling organs of dead civilians today remain under protection from the authorities of the so-called Republic. These are the militants supported by the American side, which waves a signed document stating its readiness to stifle inter-confessional conflicts and protect believers.

As expected, Ukraine made the list of signatories of the American IRFA initiative. Here, their hypocrisy takes on particularly prominent features, especially given the role that the United States has played in fueling the sectarian war in Ukraine in recent years!

It is hard to believe that the US State Department will in any way heed the opinion of religious leaders in determining the priorities of the Alliance’s work. Without any doubt, the show will be stolen by the White House’s political agenda, in direct conflict with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, as well as other countries who oppose such US hegemony. Therefore, judging by Pompeo’s speech when he announced the founding of IRFA, the key battles will unfold on the Chinese and Ukrainian fronts, as well as the Ukrainian-Georgian front in Central Asia. Of course, Washington left the role of the first fiddle if you will in the nearing information war in Europe to Poland. Poland has not had a set national policy for quite a while, happily accepting the baton from Washington. Don’t forget that these games in Warsaw, which go hand in hand with Washington in the name of religious freedom, have long cast a bad light on the Holy See.

This raises the question, is freedom of religion even possible under the thumb of the US? Especially with former Senator Sam Brownback, currently the United States Ambassador for religious freedom sweet talking the public and delivering regular verbal tirades.

Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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