U.S. State Department Issues 2009 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom

October 2009 – Washington, D.C.

The United States Department of State has submitted to Congress its 2009 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide.  In remarks accompanying the release of the report, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton noted that religious freedom, the “first liberty mentioned in our Bill of Rights,” provides a cornerstone for every healthy society. “It empowers faith-based service. It fosters tolerance and respect among different communities. And it allows nations that uphold it to become more stable, secure and prosperous.” This year’s report, noted Secretary Clinton, “has a special focus on efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and tolerance” within the United States and in cooperation with international efforts.  Such efforts, asserted Clinton, must include “a combination of robust legal protections against discrimination and hate crimes, proactive government outreach to minority religious groups, and the vigorous defense of both freedom of religion and expression.”  Additional information is available at the links below.