There is a gaping hole in American foreign policy today, and it is negatively affecting our national security and the security of the world.

“There has been a ‘religious freedom avoidance syndrome’ in the State Department,” said Dr. Tom Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute, during a recent FRC Speaker Series panel discussion held in Washington, D.C. “…The problem with that … is that the world is religious. And if it is the business of American diplomates, which it is, to defend American interests in a highly religious world, staying away from religion simply doesn’t make sense.”

Professor Robert Destro of Catholic University of America pointed out that we need to work with other countries to make them realize that granting their citizens more religious freedom will actually promote their own self-interests. Studies show that increased religious freedom leads to the absence of religious violence, economic growth, a reduction in corruption, a decrease in infant mortality, better health outcomes, more literacy, more empowerment of women, and more.

Professor Destro also made the case that America needs to help its own Muslim citizens present the benefits of religious freedom to their Muslim counterparts in the Middle East, because it’s obvious that someone of the same faith as them can make the case much more effectively than non-Muslims. As Dr. Farr pointed out, extremist ideologies cannot be destroyed with bullets, they must be destroyed by better ideas.

Don’t miss the full panel discussion.

Be sure to read FRC’s full analysis of the religious freedom/national security issue.