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New Approaches to Religion in U.S. Diplomacy

Leader: Shaun Casey

The role of religion in American diplomacy is evolving in new directions under the Biden administration. On issues ranging from international religious freedom to the global refugee crisis and climate change, religious dynamics contrast with those of the previous administration. Through a series of events over the 2021-2022 academic year, the project will explore new approaches to religion in U.S. diplomacy, with particular attention to links between domestic and foreign policy and the role of religion in the policymaking process.

As the Biden administration continues to develop new approaches to foreign policy in stark contrast to the previous administration, the role of religion in American diplomacy will undoubtedly change. The New Approaches to Religion in U.S. Diplomacy project will assess the changing roles of religion by offering analysis from a range of voices on a number of policy issues. It will examine a large policy set where significant religious dynamics exist, including: reforming international religious freedom policy; re-engaging the international refugee system; managing a resurgence of immigrants at the southern border of the United States; re-entering the Paris Climate Accord; increasing international and domestic climate change mitigation financing; responding to unfolding crises in Israel-Palestine, Afghanistan, the African continent, and genocide in China and Myanmar as well as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic response; maintaining diplomatic relations with the Holy See, and rethinking the means of engaging the Muslim world.

Project activities will also examine the linkage between domestic policy and foreign policy established by President Joe Biden’s argument that he desires a foreign policy that works for the American middle class. This will include issues such the administration’s response to the role of white Christian nationalism, the expansion of aid to the poor, the role of international funding of domestic disinformation campaigns, the rise of armed Christian resistance to administration policies, addressing rising anti-Semitism, and the impact of the ongoing racial reckoning in U.S. society.

In addition, the project will pay attention to how the administration addresses the role of religion in U.S. diplomacy in terms of the organization and staffing of the Department of State and the National Security Council in comparison with the relevant offices dealing with religion under previous administrations.

Building on an earlier series of events and blogs intended to provide priority guidance for the incoming Biden administration, over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year the project will host a series of events that will illuminate the changing role of religion in U.S. foreign policy from different perspectives.

People sitting and talking at tables with glasses of water and national flags

Project Leader

Shaun Casey headshot

Shaun Casey

Senior Fellow
Walsh School of Foreign Service

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