INAF-423 Politics of International Religious Freedom
Fall for 2014-2015
Note: This class will be held at the Berkley Center, 3307 M Street, NW, Suite 200
The slaughter of Christian minorities in Iraq; the emergence of democracy in Muslim Indonesia; the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; the Catholic contribution to "the third wave" of democratization. For better or worse, religion is assuming an increasingly important role in international affairs. Although the "secularization theory" holds that religion will diminish with the advance of modernity, religious ideas and actors have become major players in the 21st century. This is a development with enormous implications for American national interests. Perhaps fortuitously, the United States is the only country in the world with an official policy of advancing international religious freedom (IRF). This course will examine the politics of U.S. IRF policy, its origins, critics, victories, and defeats to date, as well as its prospects for development. Along the way it will explore the attitudes about religion and religious freedom which have helped to mold that policy. It will ask whether U.S. strategies have reduced religious persecution, or advanced religious freedom, and what impact they have had on American interests in the greater Middle East and China. In addressing these questions it will draw on various academic disciplines, including political science and international relations, history, theology, philosophy and sociology.
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