Over the past few weeks, The Immanent Frame has been the site of a high-profile discussion on religious freedom. Earlier this week, Foreign Policy ran an article by Thomas F. Farr asking, “Why hasn’t Obama nominated a religious-freedom ambassador yet?”
The United States’ 12-year-old policy of advancing religious freedom abroad has received a fair amount of attention in recent months. Two reports—one by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the other by the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships—have recommended that President Barack Obama emphasize religious freedom in his foreign policy. Two nonpartisan letters—one from a group of scholars, policy thinkers, and activists, the other from members of Congress—have echoed those recommendations. Yet there is no sign the administration is paying attention. Indeed, nearly 15 months in, Obama has not even nominated a candidate for the position of ambassador at large for international religious freedom.
In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the International Religious Freedom Act, which mandated that the freedom to practice religion, a founding tenet of the United States, become a foreign-policy priority. Since then, presidents have spoken out against religious persecution in places such as China and Afghanistan. They have extolled the value of religious freedom to individuals and societies. But the promotion of international religious freedom has rarely been more than a talking point. Presidents and diplomats have failed to integrate the issue fully into U.S. foreign policy, ignoring its potential contribution to world peace and vital U.S. interests.
Read the full article here.