Friday, April 02, 2021

USCIRF Focuses On Financial Regulation of Religious Organizations

Earlier this week, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom issued a Fact Sheet titled Controlling Civil Society's Pursestrings. The Fact Sheet focuses on the impact of financial regulation on religious organizations and religious freedom. It concludes:  

Around the globe, governments rely on excessive financial restrictions to hamper civil society actors.... Efforts to restrict foreign funding, or label civil society organizations as “foreign agents,” often reflect broader xenophobic policies under which religious minorities are targeted as dangerous foreign influences or potential fifth columns.

Financial harassment can take many forms, from attempts to delegitimize the work of foreign-funded civil society by enacting requirements to register as “foreign agents,” to imposing excessive and intrusive reporting requirements, as well as exorbitant fees and fines for religious activity, to seizing assets or religious property.... [T]he ability to solicit and receive financial contributions is an integral component of the freedom of religion or belief....