Welcome to USCIRF

  • The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) unanimously elected Dr. Tenzin Dorjee as its Chair and Kristina Arriaga and Gayle Manchin as its Vice Chairs. Read more here.

  • Contract opportunities religion

    USCIRF is seeking assistance with research on various issues. See contract opportunities here

  • women religious freedom

    Read the May 2018 Policy Focus on Women and Religious Freedom here.

  • 2018 Annual Report

    On April 25, USCIRF released its 2018 Annual Report. Click here for the press release, or here to view the full report.

  • USCIRF welcomed the State Department’s naming of “Countries of Particular Concern” (CPCs) for severe religious freedom violations.  This group comprises nations that violate religious freedom in a “systematic, ongoing, egregious” manner and includes Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The USCIRF Press Release may be found here.  The State Department announcement may be found here.

What's New at USCIRF

A USCIRF delegation visited Khartoum and North Darfur states in May 2018 to learn about specific violations and barriers to religious freedom perpetrated both by state and non-state actors. The delegation met with a wide range of interlocutors, including Sudanese government officials, members of civil society, women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, religious leaders, representatives of religious minority communities, and journalists, among others. This report highlights information provided to USCIRF in four areas, including the supremacy of the government’s interpretation of Islam, state enforcement of this interpretation of Islam resulting in the violation of women’s rights, and oppression of Christians and other minority groups.   read more
WASHINGTON, DC – In an open vote, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today unanimously elected Dr. Tenzin Dorjee as its Chairman. Chairman Dorjee is an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). He is a prominent translator of Tibetan and Buddhist works and has been recognized with numerous honors for his scholarship and advocacy on behalf of the Tibetan community. He has traveled to Burma and Iraq to monitor religious freedom conditions and testified before the U.S. Congress on religious freedom conditions in Tibet and China. read more
WASHINGTON, DC – Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) yesterday reappointed Kristina Arriaga, and on May 15, 2018, President Donald J. Trump appointed Gary L. Bauer, Nadine Maenza, and Johnnie Moore to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).   read more
This report presents findings from a review of 12 Saudi high school textbooks for the current 2017-2018 academic school year. The books, numbering more than 2,000 pages and focusing only on religious subjects, are much more intolerant than the six religious books from 2012-2014 that were reviewed by USCIRF. Based on the books reviewed, it appears that they are even more intolerant than the 2011-2012 textbooks studied by the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), which identified many intolerant passages. The 2017-2018 books are more akin to Saudi textbooks from the early years of the previous decade before the Saudi government promised to reform its curricula. The issues found in the books implicated religious freedom and other human rights. read more

Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project

USCIRF's Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project highlights individuals imprisoned for exercising their freedom of religion or belief, as well as the dedicated advocacy of USCIRF Commissioners working for their release. Please click the photos below for more information on the prisoners, and the Commissioners' efforts on their behalfs.
 
Featured Religious Prisoner:
Raif Badawi (Saudi Arabi
 

 
 
Click here for information on Raif Badawi and religious freedom conditions in Saudi Arabia.
Click here to watch the launch of the Religious Prisoners of Conscience Project. 
 

USCIRF Religious Prisoners of Conscience

 

 

 

Prisoner of Conscience List

Click here for USCIRF's Prisoner of Conscience List which is mandated by Public Law 114-281, the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act.

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Tweets from @USCIRF

USCIRF Focus: Blasphemy Laws

Respecting Rights? Measuring the World’s Blasphemy Laws catalogs the offending laws found in a wide range of countries. In some countries, blasphemy laws are enforced weakly, if at all, yet such laws, “in both theory and practice, harm individuals and societies.” The report details laws spanning the globe from countries such as Canada and Switzerland to Iran and Indonesia with penalties ranging from fines to death. Surprisingly, more than one-third of the world’s nations have blasphemy laws today.

Selected Blasphemy Cases seeks to put a human face on blasphemy laws. The individuals highlighted here are only a sample of those who have been negatively impacted by blasphemy laws. For some we have pictures, but for many we do not. Read their stories, the charges against them, and their sentences to better understand the devastating impact of these laws and the need for repeal.

Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities

While a common misperception persists that women’s rights to equality and freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) are clashing rights, the two are actually indivisible and interrelated, as shown in Women and Religious Freedom: Synergies and Opportunities. FoRB is neither a right of “religion” as such, nor an instrument for support of religiously phrased limitations on women’s rights to equality. Harmful practices affecting women and girls cannot be accepted as legitimate manifestations of FoRB because the assertion of one human rights claim cannot be used to extinguish other rights.

USCIRF Summit on International Religious Freedom

On April 18, 2018, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) hosted a summit commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 in Washington D.C. 
The summit included a plenary to discuss the “State of the Union” of international religious freedom followed by two panels featuring distinguished guests discussing strategies for achieving positive change for religious freedom and prisoners of conscience around the world.

A link to the live Twitter recording of the event can be found here.

Country Update: Sudan - June 2018

A USCIRF delegation visited Khartoum and North Darfur states in May 2018 to learn about specific violations and barriers to religious freedom perpetrated both by state and non-state actors. The delegation met with a wide range of interlocutors, including Sudanese government officials, members of civil society, women’s rights activists, human rights defenders, religious leaders, representatives of religious minority communities, and journalists, among others. This report highlights information provided to USCIRF in four areas, including the supremacy of the government’s interpretation of Islam, state enforcement of this interpretation of Islam resulting in the violation of women’s rights, and oppression of Christians and other minority groups.

 

Dr. Tenzin Dorjee Unanimously Elected as Chair of Bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC – In an open vote, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today unanimously elected Dr. Tenzin Dorjee as its Chairman. Chairman Dorjee is an Associate Professor at the Department of Human Communication Studies, California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). He is a prominent translator of Tibetan and Buddhist works and has been recognized with numerous honors for his scholarship and advocacy on behalf of the Tibetan community. He has traveled to Burma and Iraq to monitor religious freedom conditions and testified before the U.S. Congress on religious freedom conditions in Tibet and China.

Study Revealed Numerous Passages in Saudi Textbooks Advocating Intolerance and Violence

This report presents findings from a review of 12 Saudi high school textbooks for the current 2017-2018 academic school year. The books, numbering more than 2,000 pages and focusing only on religious subjects, are much more intolerant than the six religious books from 2012-2014 that were reviewed by USCIRF. Based on the books reviewed, it appears that they are even more intolerant than the 2011-2012 textbooks studied by the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy (ICRD), which identified many intolerant passages. The 2017-2018 books are more akin to Saudi textbooks from the early years of the previous decade before the Saudi government promised to reform its curricula. The issues found in the books implicated religious freedom and other human rights.

CHINA: USCIRF Deeply Concerned About Increasing Repression of Uighur Muslims

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) denounces the Chinese government’s increasing crackdown on Uighur Muslims. The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where the majority of Uighurs reside, increasingly resembles a police state. The Chinese government’s pervasive policies and intrusive security controls deny Uighur Muslims’ basic civil liberties and human rights and interfere with the practice of their faith, including during the holy month of Ramadan, which begins May 15, 2018.

Turkey Postpones Hearing to July 18, Sends Pastor Andrew Brunson Back to Prison

WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) was deeply disappointed today by a Turkish court decision to once again postpone proceedings in the case of Pastor Andrew Brunson, an American citizen and leader of a small Protestant Christian church who is facing up to 35 years imprisonment on false terrorism and espionage related charges. Vice Chair Sandra Jolley attended today’s hearing in Aliaga and witnessed the nearly eleven hours of proceedings. USCIRF has condemned the charges against Pastor Brunson and called for his immediate release.

Gayle Conelly Manchin Appointed to USCIRF

WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) on April 19, 2018 appointed Gayle Conelly Manchin to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “USCIRF welcomes the appointment of Gayle Manchin to the Commission, and we look forward to the work she will do in the years ahead on the pressing challenges to religious freedom around the globe,” said USCIRF Chairman Daniel Mark. “Given these challenges, it is critically important that Congress and the administration continue to make the necessary appointments to the Commission, thereby allowing us to continue to fulfill our mandate of advancing religious freedom through U.S. foreign policy.”

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About the Commission

Who We Are

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, that monitors the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.

What We're About

Inherent in religious freedom is the right to think as we please, believe or not believe as our conscience leads, and live out our beliefs openly, peacefully, and without fear.

We are about freedom

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