Religious Freedom and the Struggle against Extremism

Policy debates about how to combat religious extremism, terrorism, and violence have typically pitted supporters of military and police force against advocates of economic and social development. A vital policy tool—the advancement of religious freedom—has been neglected. This thematic area explored the causal mechanisms linking religious freedom and violence. Is the suppression of religious freedom linked to religiously-motivated violence or terrorism? Do restrictions on religious liberty undermine moderates or reformers who might otherwise oppose extremism? Can the advancement of religious freedom catalyze the kinds of political theologies that support democratic governance and counter religious extremism and terrorism? From 2011 to 2014 the Religious Freedom Project asked these and other questions of diverse societies around the world.
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