U.S. official: Some nations wary of Christian missionaries

8:24 PM, Oct 22, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. official says many foreign nations are concerned that Christian missionaries are seeking converts as well as providing humanitarian aid.

Susan Hayward, a program director at the U.S. Institute of Peace, moderated a State Department panel discussion Monday on "Religion, Violence and Coexistence."

She said that when the institute and the State Department promote international religious freedom, Muslim nations and others object that some Christian missionaries are using their relief work to proselytize.

That can be illegal in nations that define religious freedom as the right to practice one's faith, but not change it or try to convert others.

Hayward said Christian groups are often accused of "tying conversion to development and humanitarian assistance."

The panel discussion was held to coincide with this week's International Religious Freedom Day on Oct. 27. 

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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