WASHINGTON -- People of faith are still in danger in many parts of the world and on Tuesday that message was echoed by the U.S. Department of State.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained to members of the news media Tuesday that religious freedom and rights are still a top concern of the United States.
She pointed out religious persecution continues today, as she described a new atrocity this week.
"Gunmen masquerading as security officers waylaid a bus of Shia pilgrims traveling throughout western Iraq," Clinton said.
"The women were abandoned by the side of the road. But the 22 men were shot and their bodies left in the middle of the desert," she said.
The list of country's who are the world's worst persecutors include:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
Some experts believe as secularism rises in these countries, much of the need to worry about religious divides will fade.
But Rev. Rob Schenck, president of the group Faith and Action, said just the opposite is true.
"The world is only becoming more religious. Every religious group, particularly conservative, strict religious groups are booming exponentially," Schenck told CBN News.
"The future of the world is a religious one. It makes all the religious components of our diplomacy, of our government, of our international relations not just very important, but I would argue the most important thing that we do," he added.
America's newest ambassador for religious freedom said the U.S. will keep the heat on these countries whenever and however it can.
"Too many countries in the world today do not allow people to exercise their religious freedom or they make it difficult or dangerous to do so," Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook said. "So as hard as it may be, we need to get up everyday and keep trying to make a difference."