Published On: Fri, Jun 25th, 2021

Hawley Wants Canada Added to Watchlist of Religious Freedom Violators for Pastor Arrests

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Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) on Thursday appealed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) to consider adding Canada to its special watchlist—alongside the likes of Afghanistan, Cuba, and Iraq—in response to arrests of Canadian pastors who held services that allegedly violated COVID-19 restrictions. The USCIRF’s special watchlist (SWL) is a list of countries where state-sanctioned violations of religious freedoms meet two of the elements of the agency’s “systematic, ongoing, and egregious” test. A secondary list, called the Countries of Particular Concern (CPC), features countries like China and Iran that meet all three criteria and whose governments engage in or tolerate “particularly severe” violations, such as torture. In his letter (pdf) to Nadine Maenza, USCIRF chair, the Missouri Republican expressed his “deep concern” that religious freedom “is in peril across our nation’s northern border,” citing several recent examples of Canadian pastors being arrested for non-compliance with pandemic health rules. …

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