The 'Religious Freedom' Agenda

The 'Religious Freedom' Agenda
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Behind the Oval Office circus of drama and distraction, conservatives are quietly reshaping government in ways that could resonate for generations to come. One major front is the integration of religion into foreign policy, in which the phrase religious freedom figures prominently—in the same way it did during the George W. Bush administration. As it is not partial to any particular religion, religious freedom avoids running afoul of the Constitution's establishment clause. It also has a footprint in the existing federal bureaucracy. The State Department's Office of International Religious Freedom, headed by an ambassador-ranked diplomat, has been around since the late 1990s. This week, Ambassador Sam Brownback, who heads the office, will host the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom, along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "Nobody disagrees with religious freedom," Brownback told me in an interview last week. "Well, the Chinese do," he added.

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