EXCERPT: Suzan Johnson Cook, an ordained Baptist minister recently sworn in as United States ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, said the report outlining the state of religious liberty in 198 countries revealed key trends in how many governments and societies repress religion.

Too often, she said, governments violate religious freedom both through intentional restriction and by failing to prosecute vigilante violence and persecution against religious minorities. She said the U.S. shares "deep concern" about the targeting of individuals based on their religion and opposes laws banning blasphemy, apostasy and heresy used to persecute locally unpopular religious groups. Other concerns include restrictions on attire or places of worship and actions that "willfully exploit tension or perpetuate negative stereotypes."



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