America's International Religious Freedom Policy

Thomas F. Farr

in Rethinking Religion and World Affairs

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199827978
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933020 | DOI:
America's International Religious Freedom Policy

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American diplomacy continues to insist that Afghanistan achieved religious freedom. Whatever the State Department meant by that term, it did not appear to exclude illiberal religious practices that were destructive of religious freedom and incompatible with the consolidation of democracy. What accounts for these anomalies in U.S. foreign policy, and in particular its approach to advancing international religious freedom? What have been the goals of international religious freedom (IRF) diplomacy, and what has been its relationship to broader policy purposes, including the “soft power” aspects of democracy promotion? This chapter explores these and other questions in assessing the policy mandated by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). It begins with a brief discussion of the legislative campaign that produced the IRFA and follows with an exploration of the law's operation during the period 1998–2008. It then turns to the critics of the new initiative, who emerged from all sides of the American ideological spectrum. The chapter concludes with an assessment of U.S. IRF policy after its first decade.

Keywords: American diplomacy; foreign policy; international religious freedom; 1998 International Religious Freedom Act

Chapter.  8007 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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