How Involved Should The United States Be In Issues Of International Religious Freedom?
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom is an independent commission created by the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. Its principal responsibilities are to review the facts and circumstances of violations of religious freedom internationally and to make policy recommendations. It is currently under review for re-authorization. How important is it to continue to support this body? Is the U.S. overstepping its authority by monitoring the state of religious freedom outside its borders? Should we be concentrating our resources and efforts here at home?
The USCIRF should be continued – it has an important function as a monitor of international religious freedom, but as long as the State Department is also engaged in its fundamental duty of protecting the interests of the United States above those of any other nation, it will not be able to fulfill its complete charter of recommending direct action against hostile countries without facing a great deal of suspicion of either diplomatic or religious mission.
What few understand is the domestic and administrative (i.e., political "behind the scenes") reasons why USCIRF remains vitally necessary. It is necessary to provide a balancing perspective to the often competing approaches to U.S. international religious freedom policy put forward by the U.S. State Department and USCIRF.
Exactly how the U.S. should be involved in international religious freedom is complicated, but I would propose that a least common denominator as to the “how,” would be that the U.S. should avoid arrogance or belligerence in its approach to these important issues.