Monday, April 13, 2009

U.S. International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) is lacking says long-time diplomat

Long-time diplomat, Thomas Farr served in the U.S. State Department under the last two ambassadors at large for religious freedom. In his new book, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty is Vital to American National Security, and in a 65-page report he coauthored with Dennis Hoover, Farr looks at the execution of the 10-year-old International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).  Quite frankly, as he says in an interview with Christianity Today, he finds it lacking.  Here’s an excerpt:

You say in the report that U.S. religious freedom advocacy is ineffective.

The function of advancing religious freedom has never — and I say somewhat surprisingly [not] under the Bush administration — never been integrated into the broader foreign policy of the United States. This whole [IRFA] thing was a backwater, it was compartmentalized.

Both ambassadors, [Robert] Seiple and [John] Hanford, did some very good things. Because of their personal persistence, they both got people out of jail. I would guess that over ten years there are hundreds of people who are walking free because of their efforts.

But the rule is that we're not actually advancing religious freedom. We're cursing the darkness of persecution.

To read the rest of this fascinating and informative interview, you can click here.  I would also highly recommend downloading and reading the report referred to above.

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