12/06/2006 - With the passage of the International Religious Freedom Act in 1998, the United States became one of the few countries in the world to make promotion of religious freedom an explicit foreign policy goal. The act, signed into law by President Clinton, established an Office of International Religious Freedom at the State Department, headed by an ambassador-at-large responsible for issuing a yearly country-by-country report on religious freedom. This year the office designated Uzbekistan, Burma, China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan as "countries of particular concern" for their "systematic, ongoing, and egregious" violations of religious liberty. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the American Academy of Religion and the Library of Congress' Kluge Center invited four distinguished experts to explore why the U.S. has made international religious freedom a priority and in what ways the policy has succeeded or failed. In the following excerpts, ellipses have been omitted.
Thomas Farr, first director of the U.S. State Department Office of International Religious Freedom
Allen D. Hertzke, University of Oklahoma, author of Freeing God's Children: The Unlikely Alliance for Human Rights
Elizabeth H. Prodromou, Boston University, author of forthcoming books on pluralism in Greece and in Russia; vice chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, University of Buffalo Law School, State University of New York, author of The Impossibility of Religious Freedom
Timothy S. Shah, Senior Fellow in Religion and World Affairs, Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life
Read the full transcript on Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life Web site..Top