(WND) For the first time ever, the United States has been added to an annual list of the world’s persecutors of Christians and countries that are regressing in religious freedom.
The United States, Mexico and Russia were listed as “new and noteworthy” nations in the 2016 “Hall of Shame Report” published by the Washington, D.C., based human rights group International Christian Concern, or ICC.
The “worst of the worst” countries for Christian persecution – the “most egregious state persecutors” – included Iraq, Syria, Nigeria and North Korea.
Others listed as “core countries” – or nations that are less egregious in their persecution but are “perennial abusers of religious freedom” – were Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China and India.
While ICC notes “there is no comparison between the life of a Christian in the U.S. with persecuted believers overseas,” the group noted a number of “worrying trends as an alarming indication of a decline in religious liberty in the United States.”
ICC President Jeff King explained: “We felt it was very important this year that we highlight three countries where religious discrimination and persecution are deemed unusual but have reached a certain threshold of concern. These are Mexico, Russia, and sadly, the United States.
“While conditions in the U.S. are in no way comparable to other countries on the list, a certain segment of the culture and the courts seem to be intent on driving faith out of the public square. There have been too many court cases with bad decisions to miss the clear trend line.”