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In today’s column , George Weigel explains that religious freedom should be a primary concern of American foreign policy. Not only is this a question of the first human freedom, it makes pragmatic sense for Washington: “Religious freedom advances the cause of peace, for countries that violate the first freedom internally are, in the main, countries “whose internal stability, economic policies, and foreign policies are of substantial concern to the United States.””

But U.S. policy has achieved little in this arena:

The U.S. approach to international religious freedom is largely rhetorical: annual reports are issued, speeches are made, lists of egregious persecutors are published. None of this, however, has much effect on the persecutors.

That, in turn, suggests another structural reason why the effort to promote religious freedom internationally, mandated by Congress, hasn’t worked: it hasn’t been thought through strategically. Or as Farr put it, forbearing to mince words, no president or secretary of state has made a concerted, sustained effort to “integrate the advancement of religious freedom into the foreign policy of the United States” since the International Religious Freedom Act was passed in 1998.

Read the full  On the Square here .

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