I applaud the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ call for the U.S. government to recognize the pivotal role of religion in societies around the world and to engage religious communities in pursuit of American foreign policy objectives. The Council’s Task Force on Religion and the Making of U.S. Foreign Policy wisely recommends mandating diplomatic training in religious literacy to address the striking ignorance that often leads to foreign policy blunders and missed opportunities. The tensions within the Task Force, which Scott Appleby recounts, actually illustrate the misconceptions that bedevil what, by law and interest, should be a central thrust of engagement: the promotion of religious freedom as a universal human right. As one who closely observed the process that produced the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, I can counter a number of such misconceptions.Read the rest of Beware the unstated assumptions.
Allen Hertzke is the Presidential Professor of Political Science at the University of Oklahoma. He is author of several books, including Representing God in Washington (University of Tennessee Press, 1988), an award-winning analysis of religious lobbies, which has been issued in a Chinese-language translation; Echoes of Discontent (Congressional Quarterly, 1993), an account of church-rooted populist movements; and, as co-author, Religion and Politics in America (Westview Press, 2004), a comprehensive text on faith and politics, now in its third edition. His most recent book is Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Global Human Rights (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2004).