In the May 2006 issue of First Things , Thomas Farr argued that the US needed to pay attention to religion in its foreign policy decisions in order for those decisions to have any lasting effect:
In other words, there is evidence that liberal democracy in religious cultures will not emerge without a suitable compact that regulates the overlapping authorities of religion and state, a relationship Stepan dubs the “twin tolerations.” This is one way of looking at the task of American diplomacy in Iraq. The democratic experiment there remains in play not only because of the heroic sacrifices of Americans and Iraqis but also because the dominant cultural forceIraqi Shiismremains open to liberal democracy and religious freedom as a political arrangement consistent with its teachings. Should sectarian violence reverse that openness, the prospects for success will be dim. U.S. diplomacy must help convince all Iraqis, but especially majority Shiites, that a liberal democracy grounded in religious freedom is in their fundamental interests, not simply in economic and political terms, but religiously as well.
Farr will have an extension of this argument appear in the forthcoming March issue of Foreign Affairs . He will also serve as the moderator for part of a symposium at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs. The symposium itself is entitled “Why Religious Freedom? The Origins and Promise of US International Religious Freedom Policy,” and Farr’s session is called “The Social, Economic, and Political Impact of Religious Liberty Worldwide.” The event is free and open to the public. First Things readers are encouraged to attend.