Faith and Justice: The Nigerian people are hospitable and hard-working, but they face huge problems: corruption, sectarian violence, and an almost total dependency on oil revenues.
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
The cover photograph on a new 232-page report outlining religious freedom violations around the world last year pretty much says it all.
The image is of Yezidis of all ages walking on a sandy, dusty terrain with sheep. Thousands of members of this religious minority had been executed and assaulted last year while others were forced to flee their ancient homeland in the Nineveh plains of Iraq by actions of the Islamic State, known as ISIS.
Faith and Justice: Half-Christian, half-Muslim, Nigeria is a country where faiths must live together in peace or they will die in great numbers.
Faith and Justice: Living in a country where religious freedom is inherent is a blessing we don't appreciate until we see how believers are oppressed in other countries.
And then there were nine. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday that Turkmenistan has joined the State Department's list of worst religious freedom offenders.
The State Department's "Countries of Particular Concern" list had remained static since 2006, when eight countries -- Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan -- were designated as CPCs.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has strongly condemned the death sentence against Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman accused of apostasy. Ibrahim was sentenced to death by hanging on May 15 after she refused to recant her faith. She also was sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery because although she was raised a Christian, the court considers her a Muslim and therefore not married to her Christian husband.
Faith and Justice: It can be easy to forget about religious freedom when policymakers are focused on national security, economic issues and other human rights.