As global restrictions on faith reach all-time highs, USIP’s Knox Thames say the United States must continue to be a vocal leader in combatting persecution and pursuing religious freedom, saying, “I think the time is right … anything we say goes out like a megaphone to the rest of the world.”

On Peace is a weekly podcast sponsored by USIP and Sirius XM POTUS Ch. 124. Each week, USIP experts tackle the latest foreign policy issues from around the world.

Related Publications

Central African Republic: A Role for Religious Leaders in Calming Conflict?

Central African Republic: A Role for Religious Leaders in Calming Conflict?

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

By: Laura Collins

Presidential and legislative elections loom large in the Central African Republic (CAR) amid high tension and spikes in violence. CAR’s religious leaders have been on the frontlines of efforts to calm tensions ahead of polls opening on December 27. From religious leaders in the capital to those at the grass roots, they have made their voices and positions clear. The question, therefore, is not if religious leaders are crucial actors in conflict stabilization and peace efforts in CAR: They already are. Rather, policymakers and practitioners should be unpacking these leaders’ experiences—past and present—and asking how to strengthen their role as peacebuilding partners in the immediate post-electoral context and longer-term.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue; Religion

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Four Thoughts on Advancing Religious Engagement in Diplomacy and Development

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

By: Peter Mandaville, Ph.D.

After nearly 20 years and across three successive U.S. administrations, it is clear that a bipartisan consensus exists among senior foreign affairs leadership that engaging religious actors to advance key American diplomatic, national security, and development objectives needs to be a priority. With some 84 percent of the world’s population expressing a faith affiliation, the role of religion as a social force around the world—and one that figures centrally in many peacebuilding contexts—cannot be ignored in our foreign relations.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

Human Rights Education as the Solution to Religious Persecution

Human Rights Education as the Solution to Religious Persecution

Monday, November 23, 2020

By: Knox Thames

Persecution on account of religion or belief confronts every community somewhere around the world—and it is an increasing trend. Challenges range from terrorist violence against minorities, such as ISIS’ depravations against Yazidis, to persecution by authoritarian governments, with China’s targeting of all faiths a prime example. To organize a defense of freedom of conscience and belief, the United States convened the Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion or Belief in 2018 and 2019, bringing together a virtual congress of nations and civil society activists from around the world. The third ministerial, organized by Poland, was held virtually in mid-November. Discussions identified challenges but also solutions. One consistent answer to the vexing problem of persecution was proffered: educating youth about human rights and pluralism.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion; Education & Training

Three Things You Thought You Knew About Freedom of Religion or Belief

Three Things You Thought You Knew About Freedom of Religion or Belief

Thursday, November 12, 2020

By: Jason Klocek; Scott Bledsoe

Accounts of global religious restrictions and hostilities have, unfortunately, become a regular feature of today’s news cycle. India’s passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which uses religious identity as a criterion for citizenship, and its violent crackdown against protesters made headlines at the turn of year. The Chinese government’s detention of more than a million Uyghur Muslims, increased surveillance, and other religious regulations in Xinjiang continue to garner much attention. And, increasingly more concern has been given to the ongoing attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria. While these examples are, of course, worrying and must be addressed, a deeper dive into the data reveals that many of the assumptions we hold about the state of global religious freedom need further unpacking.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Religion

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