Engaging Religion through Diplomacy: The Case of the United States

Author: Peter Mandaville

July 16, 2021

This chapter explains the evolution of recent U.S. approaches to religion and foreign policy, employing as an organizing principle a set of challenges the United States has faced in the course of finding a modus vivendi with religion in foreign policy. Briefly put and stated here on a continuum spanning the conceptual to the operational, these are: (1) the challenge of defining and conceptualizing religion’s place and salience within foreign policy; (2) the challenge posed by the presence of a secular bias within foreign policy institutions; (3) the challenge of legal constraints to and limitations on religious engagement; and (4) tension between the promotion of religious freedom around the world as a legally mandated component of American foreign policy and efforts to establish broader approaches to engaging religion with U.S. diplomacy. This chapter by Peter Mandaville was published in the Handbook on Religion and International Affairs, part of the Elgar Handbooks in Political Science series.

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