A new report delivered to the Obama administration claims that American foreign policy is hindered by its secularism and needs to factor religious issues into its dealings with other countries:
American foreign policy is handicapped by a narrow, ill-informed and “uncompromising Western secularism” that feeds religious extremism, threatens traditional cultures and fails to encourage religious groups that promote peace and human rights, according to a two-year study by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
The council’s 32-member task force, which included former government officials and scholars representing all major faiths, delivered its report to the White House on Tuesday. The report warns of a serious “capabilities gap” and recommends that President Obama make religion “an integral part of our foreign policy.”
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To end the “episodic and uncoordinated nature of U.S. engagement of religion in the world,” the task force recommended:
– Adding religion to the training and continuing education of all foreign service officers, diplomats and other key diplomatic, military and economic officials. That includes using the skills and expertise of military veterans and civilians returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
– Empowering government departments and agencies to engage local and regional religious communities where they are central players in the promotion of human rights and peace, as well as the delivery of health care and other forms of assistance.
– Address and clarify the role of religious freedom in U.S. foreign policy. Cizik said some parts of the world — the Middle East, China, Russia and India, for example — are particularly sensitive to the U.S. government’s emphasis on religious freedom and see it as a form of imperialism.
(Via: Gene Veith)