The State Department says it has serious concerns about proposals to criminalize interfaith marriage in Myanmar.

Separately, a U.S. government commission on religious freedom condemned a proposed religious conversion law, saying it has "no place in the 21st century."

Nationalist Buddhist monks in Myanmar are pushing legislation to "protect and preserve race and religion." President Thein Sein has directed parliament to draft it.

That's raising questions about the direction of Myanmar's democratic reforms as it shifts from decades of military rule.

The State Department says criminalizing interfaith marriages would be inconsistent with tolerance and human rights and has expressed concern to the highest levels of Myanmar's government.

Earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador Derek Mitchell said he spoke to women activists who reported receiving death threats for opposing the marriage bill.