Report: Religion Still Marginalized in Foreign Policy

July 26, 2007

Author: David E. Anderson

Source: The Pew Forum/Religion News Service

U.S. foreign policy officials have shown an increased understanding of religion's importance to American diplomacy, but the government's activities in that area display a "lack of strategic thinking" that hampers efforts abroad, according to a new report.

U.S. officials do not have "a clear set of policy objectives or tactical guidelines for dealing with emerging religious realities," said the 92-page report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a non-partisan think tank in Washington.

"Offices, programs and initiatives are more often happen-stance than coherent," the report says.

The report's lead author was Liora Danan, a research assistant at the center. Titled "Mixed Blessings: U.S. Government Engagement with Religion in Conflict-Prone Settings," the report said the government still needs a policy that can encourage broad public discussion and programs that are sensitive to religious realities.

"To consider all of the roles religion can play in conflict-prone settings, the government must expand beyond a threat-based, Islam-focused analysis of religion and embrace a broader understanding of world religions," the report said.