Department of State

US commission: Russia a major violator of religious freedom

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The State Department should add Russia to its list of the worst violators of religious freedom, a U.S. commission declared in its annual report.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, founded to advise the federal government on the issue, comes out with its own list of shame each year, citing the most abusive countries in a lineup consistently longer than the State Department’s.

This year, the USCIRF report included a dissenting report from its vice chair criticizing the commission for failing to investigate Israel.

Still no sign of leader for White House faith partnership office

Since winning the election with strong support from conservative evangelical voters, President Donald Trump has invited their leaders to the White House and banned government funding for groups that support or perform abortions overseas.

But he has yet to move on one item that many of them care about.

No one has been named to direct the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which since 2001 has linked government with a broad range of religious groups.

Activists: Islamic State group now holding 220 Christians in Syria

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The number of Christians abducted by the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria has risen to 220, activists said Thursday.

The United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the civilians were kidnapped from 11 villages near the town of Tal Tamr over the past three days by the militants, who control vast swaths of Syria and Iraq.

The abductions, which started Monday, caused thousands of residents to flee and become refugees in nearby cities.

Rabbi David Saperstein confirmed as U.S. ambassador for religious freedom

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The Senate has confirmed Rabbi David Saperstein as the State Department's ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, making him the first non-Christian to hold the job.

Saperstein, who led the Reform Jewish movement's Washington office for 40 years, focusing on social justice and religious freedom issues, was nominated by President Barack Obama in July and confirmed by a 62-35 vote on Friday.

Saperstein takes a liberal bent on domestic issues, and all but one of the votes against him came from a Republican.

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In This Issue

April 21-May 4, 2017

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