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Religious freedom: It's not just Pakistan and China


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Thirty-some years ago, I spent a fair amount of time on religious freedom issues: which meant, in those simpler days, trying to pry Lithuanian priests and nuns out of Perm Camp 36 and other gulag islands. Had you told me in 1982 that one of my "clients," the Jesuit Sigitas Tamkevicius, would be archbishop of Kaunas in a free Lithuania in 2012, I would have thought you a bit optimistic. If you had also told me, back then, that there would eventually be serious religious freedom problems in the United States, I would have thought you a bit mad.

But you would have been right on both counts.

To be sure, Americans of conviction and conscience are not under the same threats that made a martyr of Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan a year ago. American believers in biblical religion and its moral teachings do not face the relentless pressure visited upon Chinese Christians who refuse to concede that the Church is a subdivision of the state. But religious freedom is, nonetheless, under assault in these United States. The assault is both cultural and legal. It is shameful that the present administration underwrites the former while being a major actor in the latter.

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