Former diplomat prods US to widen worldwide religious freedom efforts
Former State Department diplomat Thomas F. Farr prodded U.S. officials to do more to promote religious freedom around the globe in order to boost security and stability in the world’s trouble spots during a forum at The Catholic University of America.
Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion Peace and World Affairs, said U.S. efforts in support of religious freedom have been too limited in scope and must embrace not just the freedom to worship, but all aspects of faith practice and following individual conscience.
His comments came during a panel discussion on U.S. policy and international religious freedom during a daylong forum co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Relief Services, the university and the university’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies.
Pointing to rapidly eroding religious freedom in some countries and what he termed “rising hostility” to religion in others, particularly Western Europe, Farr said people of faith are facing a “deepening crisis” whereby religious practice is becoming marginalized.
He focused much of his discussion on the persecution of Christians in Muslim countries and called upon the Obama administration to expand efforts to raise the profile of religious rights in the pursuit of foreign policy objectives.
“It’s in the vital interest of the United States that countries like Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Egypt succeed in their quest for democracy, that they overcome violent religious extremism and achieve stable democracy, economic development, women’s rights, all the things that they aspire to,” said Farr, who worked as a diplomat in the State Department for 21 years.
“In short, the United States must become more effective in finding and supporting those Muslims who know that Islam can be defended without violence and that embracing religious freedom is in their vital interest,” he said. [More]