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Diplomacy in an Age of Faith: How Failing to Understand the Role of Religion Hinders America's Purposes in the World

Recorded on April 18, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Allison Auditorium

While Americans are a highly religious people, U.S. foreign policy practitioners have not taken religion very seriously, argues Tom Farr in a recent Foreign Affairs article.  The problem is rooted in a kind of secularism that fails to understand religion's continued relevance in America's constitutional order and the relationship between religion and liberty abroad.  Rather than being inimical to the advance of freedom, religious ideas and actors can promote and strengthen ordered liberty.  The U.S. foreign policy community, supported by civil society resources, must overcome a lack of vocabulary and imagination to fashion remedies that recognize the significant role of religion.  U.S. policy must continue to advance religious liberty as a universal, fundamental freedom.  It must also present a positive vision for religion's contribution to a liberal order, addressing the balance between the overlapping authorities of religion and state, and in particular how religiously grounded norms can legitimately influence public policy.