Religious Freedom and National Security
October 3, 2012
Considering that a strong correlation has existed between religious persecution and national security both in recent years and throughout the twentieth century, the article makes the case for more significant attention to religious freedom in America’s national security strategy. While a state that engages in violations of religious liberty does not automatically constitute a national security threat to the U.S., it is more likely to become one than a state which demonstrates respect for religious freedom. This potentially threatening religious intolerance generally comes from three categories of actors: jihadist terrorism, theocratic regimes, and authoritarian powers. Regardless of these actors’ different motives for undermining religious pluralism, their actions tend to destabilize or raise tensions in the states in question, or contradict American strategic interests. Inboden argues that taking religious freedom into account during the formulation of national security policy will allow the U.S. government to better diagnose potential threats, ameliorate dire circumstances that may cause them to develop, and in the long term prevent new threats from materializing. The United States needs to move beyond rhetorical flourishes about religious freedom, and embrace it as a central component of its foreign policy. Doing so would advance not only America’s ideals, but its national security interests as well.