Government Regulation of Religious Freedom
Jamie Conner (Editor)
Series: Religion and Society
Freedom of religion or belief implies that people have the right to embrace a full range of thoughts and beliefs, including those that others might deem blasphemous; freedom of expression implies that they have the right to speak or write about them publicly. These rights are guaranteed in international documents to which most countries have agreed. Chapter 1 examines and compares the content of laws prohibiting blasphemy (“blasphemy laws”) worldwide through the lens of international and human rights law principles.
The right to practice your religion freely is one of the cornerstone freedoms we have in the United States. Freedom of religion is in the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Other countries take a narrower view of freedom of religion. Some impose an official religion, while others actively persecute those practicing a disfavored religion. Chapter 2 reports on the levels of religious freedom in different countries.
The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, requires the president to issue annually an International Religious Freedom Report and designate the worst violators as Countries of Particular Concern—CPCs—a country so designated when its government has engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious freedom. Chapter 3 discusses the efforts of the United States to combat religious freedom violations in Eurasia.
The gravity of the situation facing religious freedom in Central Asia is of particular concern. Despite the professed desire to enact more permissive regulations on religious life, the arguments opposing far-reaching reforms are cast in terms of national security and regime stability. The terms of this argument are familiar in Central Asia, not to mention in other parts of the Muslim world, where Islam simultaneously occupied a revered position in national, social, and private life, while also preoccupying national security agencies and regime loyalists who fear its potential to catalyze political opposition and terrorism as reported in chapter 4.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1. Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom
Chapter 2. Review of the U.S. Government’s Role in Protecting International Religious Freedom
Chapter 3. Religious Freedom In Eurasia: Are Governments Keeping Their Commitments?
Chapter 4. Mosque and State in Central Asia: Can Religious Freedom Coexist with Government Regulation of Islam?
Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe