“[T]he work of protecting religious freedom, for people of all faiths and none, is never finished. . . . We must be vigilant against the rising tide of targeted violence and hate at home and abroad, and work to ensure that no one feels afraid to attend a religious service, school, or community center, or walk down the street wearing the symbols of their faith. My administration will guard these cherished principles, working shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans of all beliefs to preserve our nation’s founding promise as an enduring citadel of diversity, unity, and mutual respect.”

— President Joseph R. Biden

The Biden Administration is wholly committed to promoting universal respect for freedom of religion or belief for all people around the world.  Religious freedom is enshrined in our Constitution’s First Amendment as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; it is both a core American value and a human right.  The ability to organize one’s life in accordance with one’s conscience allows one to enjoy the full constellation of human rights.  But religious freedom cannot exist without defending the co-equal and interrelated freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association, and can only thrive in democratic systems governed by the rule of law.

This Annual Report provides a detailed and factual account of the status of religious freedom in 200 countries and territories, and documents reports of violations and abuses committed by governments, non-state actors, and individuals.  The release of this report gives voice to all those worldwide seeking to peacefully exercise their beliefs without fear or recrimination.

Across the globe, in far too many places, individuals continue to be killed, tortured, jailed, harassed, and threatened on account of their religious identity or beliefs.  Left unaddressed, such abuses threaten societal cohesion and political stability, undermine economic development, and can foster radicalization and violent extremism.  While promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief is a clear manifestation of American values, it is also a national security imperative.  Governments that effectively safeguard religious freedom are more stable, more economically vibrant, and more peaceful.

As such, the United States resolves to continue the vital work of promoting respect for freedom of religion or belief for all people, everywhere.

I hereby transmit the Department of State’s 2020 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom to the United States Congress. I appreciate the longstanding Congressional support on freedom of religion or belief and look forward to working with Congress to preserve and protect this human right.

Secretary of State
Antony J. Blinken

Why and How the Reports are Prepared

The Department of State submits this annual report to the Congress in compliance with section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-292), as amended.  This report covers the period between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

U.S. embassies prepare the initial drafts of country chapters based on information from government officials, religious groups, nongovernmental organizations, journalists, human rights monitors, academics, media, and others.  The Office of International Religious Freedom, based in Washington, collaborates in collecting and analyzing additional information, drawing on its consultations with foreign government officials, domestic and foreign religious groups, domestic and foreign nongovernmental organizations, multilateral and other international and regional organizations, journalists, academic experts, community leaders, and other relevant U.S. government institutions.

The State Department’s guiding principle is to ensure that all relevant information is presented as objectively, thoroughly, and fairly as possible.  Motivations and accuracy of sources vary, however, and the Department of State is not in a position to verify independently all information contained in the reports.  To the extent possible, the reports use multiple sources to increase comprehensiveness and reduce potential for bias.  The views of any particular source are not necessarily those of the United States government.  The report is designed to spotlight examples of government and societal action that typify and illuminate issues reported in each country.  Specific inclusions or omissions should not be interpreted as a signal that a particular case is of greater or lesser importance to the U.S. government, or that a case is the only available example.  Rather, the goal is to shed light on the nature, scope, and severity of actions impacting religious freedom through illustrative examples.


This report reflects the efforts of hundreds of people in the Department of State and at U.S. missions abroad.  We thank the dedicated staff at our embassies and consulates for monitoring and promoting religious freedom, and for chronicling in detail the status of freedom of religion or belief in all corners of the globe.  Many of them went to great lengths under difficult circumstances to acquire the information in this report.

The reports were produced under the direction of Senior Official for International Religious Freedom Daniel L. Nadel and Office of International Religious Freedom Deputy Directors Stacy Bernard Davis, Mariah Mercer, and Carson Relitz Rocker.

The editorial staff of the International Religious Freedom Report consists of:  Editor-in-Chief:  Robert W. Boehme;  Editors:  Cynthia H. Akuetteh, Victoria Alvarado, Michael Ardovino, Brian Bachman, Jessica Brown, Maeve Dwyer, Lisa B. Gregory, David E. Henifin, James A. McVerry, Daniel Merrill, Carol Rodley, Vicente Valle, and David Winn; Office of International Religious Freedom staff:  James Alexander, Gaby Anciola, Rory E. Anderson, Keith Andrews, Nida Ansari, Aaron Bruce, Andre Cadieux, Warren Cofsky, Sean Comber, Serena Doan, Michael G. Dozler, Luke Falcon-Sapp, Annika Falta, Nathan George, Cassandra Harris, Razi Hashmi, Sameer Hossain, Sarah Krech, Samantha Libraty, Leslie Moorman, Tina L. Mufford, Jeff O’Neal, Douglas Padgett, Kourtney Pompi, Grace Pringle, Kim Roy, Felix Salazar, Jr., Rachel Sauer, Nicole Schlichter, Robin Schulman, Nathan Wineinger, Joanna Wulfsberg, and Brooke C. D. Young.  Special thanks to Geoffrey Palcher, Jonathan Bemis, Victor Huser, and Selene Ko.

2020 Report on International Religious Freedom
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