Before everyone starts emailing, let me quickly say that the state of religious freedom in America is qualitatively better than in many, many other countries. And I am not in any way equating the HHS Contraception Mandate with the sort of religious persecution that exists routinely elsewhere. (The US does not imprison and abuse people for conducting prayer meetings, for example). Given the US’s habit of issuing annual reports that condemn threats to religious freedom in other countries, though, it might be helpful at least to read what outside observers say about us. Here are two statements, one an editorial on a Russian Orthodox Church website, and the other a public letter from the Vatican, arguing that the US has its own religious freedom issues to address. Of the two, the Vatican’s is better done — the Russian veers into anti-American agitprop — though even the Vatican’s letter is itself a little vague, speaking only of “concerted efforts … to redefine and restrict the exercise of the right to religious freedom,” and ” the unprecedented gravity of … new threats to the Church’s liberty and public moral witness” in America. The implication is clear, though. The Mandate may be compromising the credibility of the US’s voice on religious freedom around the world.