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World of Faith and FreedomWhy International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security$
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Thomas F. Farr

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195179958

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195179958.001.0001

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The Legislative Campaign against Religious Persecution

The Legislative Campaign against Religious Persecution

(p.111) 4 The Legislative Campaign against Religious Persecution
World of Faith and Freedom

Thomas F. Farr (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The passage of the 1998 International Religious Freedom (IRF) Act seemed to presage a new chapter in U.S. foreign policy—in effect, the elevation of America's “first freedom” to what many considered its rightful ascendancy in the nation's human rights policy. In retrospect, however, the fault lines in the law's conception and implementation have been quite significant. This chapter examines those weaknesses, including the desire of IRF supporters to bypass the State Department, the perception that the law is Christian-centered, and the concern by liberals that religious freedom should not be elevated to the top of a “hierarchy of human rights.” In describing the hierarchy objection the chapter analyzes the controversial but critical issues of proselytization, and the distinction between religious tolerance and religious freedom. The net result of these and other problems is that U.S. IRF policy has been narrowly construed, ignored by its supporters, and largely ineffective.

Keywords:   International Religious Freedom Act, State Department, Christian-centered, hierarchy of human rights, proselytization, religious tolerance

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