Opinion: U.S. Report Shies Away from "Hard Truths" of Religious Intolerance

January 12, 2004

Source: The Moscow Times


On January 12, 2004 The Moscow Times ran an opinion piece by Lawrence A. Uzzell, president of International Religious Freedom Watch, in which he pointed out the shortcomings of the U.S. State Department's 2003 International Religious Freedom Report. Uzzell writes, "[G]overnment reports, produced by compromises between bureaucratic factions, are less adept at creative analysis. They tend to fall back on standard formulas, repeating them every year rather than providing new insights into the changing dynamics of repression. They often flinch from telling hard truths. For example, the new report's section on Russia states that 'there was no change in the overall status of respect for religious freedom' during the period it covers -- the year 2002. Contradicting that conclusion are facts that the report itself acknowledges. It provides a commendable wealth of detail on expulsions of foreign clergy and missionaries, but fails to state explicitly that such expulsions have sharply increased in recent years."