International Religious Freedom: Another orphan issue of the 2008 campaign
Amid the final campaign push, the 10th anniversary of the nation’s landmark covenant on international religious freedom passed largely unnoticed on Monday. That is more than a shame. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (IRFA) was passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic president who proved to be better at promoting this issue than his ostensibly faith-friendly successor, George W. Bush.
This issue is not only one of the pressing moral concerns of the day, but good for national security, as well–and smart politics, if either campaign had noticed. The issue is one I have spent a good deal of time researching, and I wrote about IRFA and the lost opportunity in an op-ed for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey on Sunday.
This is an issue of great concern to Catholics, and one where the global reach and traditions of Catholicism offer a particular contribution. In the Ledger piece I cite Georgetown scholar-in-residence and former diplomat Tom Farr, and his excellent new book, “World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security.” Farr is one of the best go-to sources I’ve found.
Let’s hope that whoever wins on Tuesday, they’ll appreciate the advantages and virtues of promoting religious rights abroad.