World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security

Thomas A. Farr, Author . Oxford Univ. Press $29.95 (367p) ISBN 978-0-19-517995-8

A veteran in foreign affairs offers this lucid case against an American foreign policy that either ignores religion or sees it as an obstacle to human freedom. Farr suggests that American foreign policy is “unduly limiting our capacity to defend ourselves” by overlooking religion as a powerful influence on how nations act. He argues for a strong connection between religion and democracy, urging U.S. foreign policy makers to encourage Islamic and other religious leaders to use their own sacred texts to derive “liberal norms” that promote human dignity. Bright narrative spots, such as the story of a family persecuted in its native land for religion but now living and worshipping freely in the U.S., pepper a too lengthy history of the International Religious Freedom Act. About Islam, the author takes a prescriptive line, setting out concrete steps and arguments for training diplomats about religion. Although the conclusion is thin, one irony stands out: even as America has learned the religious ideology behind the 9/11 attacks, its strategy of promoting democracy has largely ignored “the critical role religion must play if freedom is to endure.” (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 10/13/2008
Release date: 10/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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