Bridges and barriers : promoting U.S. international religious freedom policy in the Middle East through public diplomacy
Waitekus, Crystal Nicole.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2009.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Religious freedom has played an essential role in American history. Yet, there is a long tradition of neglect and ignorance in matters of faith in the U.S. foreign policy arena. As a result, diplomats are ill prepared to understand the evolution of religious freedom in the America which handicaps the effective promotion of U.S. international religious freedom policy through public diplomacy in the Middle East.; Consequently there are widespread concerns and misunderstandings about U.S. international religious freedom policy in the region. Many Muslims see a disconnect between the secular, American lifestyle portrayed through films, music videos, and television, and the policy values espoused by U.S. diplomats. There is the widespread perception that U.S. international religious freedom policy is biased, benefits Christian missionaries, and supports strict separation of church and state. Left unaddressed, these concerns build resentment and weaken U.S. national security and economic objectives.; In order to regain credibility and advance international religious freedom, the U.S. should explain its internal struggles with religious freedom, from its inception to the present. Unlike the current primarily punitive implementation of U.S. international religious freedom policy, diplomats should be trained to understand the central role religion plays within cultures and engage foreign audiences about the personal and communal benefits of religious freedom. Public diplomacy provides a unique opportunity to reach key segments of society including, business owners, students and women. In the end, citizens living in the Middle East will have to debate and determine what is acceptable within Islam and develop their own system. However, the U.S. can contribute to this process by thoughtfully explaining its unique model and experience.
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