The Link Between International Religious Freedom and National Security: Ensuring a Safe America While Pursuing our Ideals

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2018-04

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Abstract

In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed into law the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). The law’s stated purpose was “to express United States foreign policy with respect to, and to strengthen United States advocacy on behalf of, individuals persecuted in foreign countries on account of religion” and “to implement appropriate tools in the United States foreign policy apparatus…to promote respect for religious freedom by all governments and peoples” (International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, [IRFA], 1998, Preamble & H.R. 2431-4). At the time IRFA passed, more than one-half of the world’s population lived in countries that either severely restricted or prohibited religious freedom (IRFA, 1998, H.R. 2431- 3). Evidence from the Pew Research Center demonstrates that limits on freedom of religion have worsened during the 20 years since the law passed. A Pew study reported that as of 2015, “79% of the world’s population lived in countries with high or very high levels of religious restrictions” (Cooperman, Kishi, & Schiller, 2017). The continued deterioration of religious freedom internationally demonstrates that IRFA and the structures it created have not been effective or sufficient in addressing this global crisis. This paper reviews the challenges that have hindered IRF policy at the State Department and Executive Branch and makes recommendations for how to address them. Further, it argues that effective IRF policy is necessary not only for upholding American values and human rights but for ensuring U.S. national security.

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Rzepka, Mary (2018). The Link Between International Religious Freedom and National Security: Ensuring a Safe America While Pursuing our Ideals. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/16773.


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