Why Religious Freedom?
The book begins with an apostasy trial in democratic Afghanistan. The episode reveals a serious deficit in U.S. foreign policy: in a world increasingly influenced by religion, American diplomacy lacks the policy mandate, habits of thought, training or bureaucratic structure to engage religious ideas and actors. Beset by confusion, and despite supposedly clarifying events such as the 9/11 attacks, the foreign affairs establishment routinely acts in a “secularistic” fashion, instinctively removing religion from the policy table. The disarray does not admit of easy solution; it is fed by attitudes from across the ideological spectrum of American society. There is, however, a potentially fruitful remedy at hand: the U.S. policy of promoting international religious freedom. Properly refurbished and energized, that policy could dramatically increase the capacity of American diplomacy to advance vital U.S. interests abroad and at home. A key to success will be promoting religious freedom properly understood.
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