Feb 9, 2018
Promoting international religious liberty is one of those things that America ought to be doing for its own sake, but doing it would also serve U.S. national security interests as an anti-terrorism tool. Yet indifference to religion at the upper reaches of the U.S. political culture has been a serious obstacle to that for years and remains so today.
Instead, says a veteran American foreign policy practitioner and observer, recent decades have brought a "global crisis" which has reached the point where religion-related terrorism by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda now threatens much of the world, including the U.S., while the American foreign policy establishment overlooks promoting religious liberty as an appropriate response. "It is hard to sell a product in which you do not believe, let alone one you hold in contempt," adds Thomas Farr.
Farr, a former Foreign Service officer who was first director of the State Department's office of international religious freedom, teaches at Georgetown University's foreign service school and heads the Washington-based Religious Freedom Institute and the religious freedom research project at Georgetown's Berkley Center. He shared his views recently with a House foreign affairs subcommittee.
Meanwhile, on January 24, the Senate confirmed former Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas as U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom on a party line 49-49 vote, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking 50th vote. Brownback was first nominated by President Trump last July, but he was opposed by gay rights groups for what the Washington Post called "his record on LGBT rights." Farr in his House testimony called Brownback's confirmation "vitally important" to the religious liberty cause.