We live in an amazing country where we enjoy the freedom to practice whatever religion we choose, or we can choose to practice no religion at all. Faith is a very personal choice and speaks to our core values that are often inflexible.
Unfortunately much of the world does not enjoy the same freedoms that are protected here in America. A recent Pew Research Center study found that social hostilities involving religion are at a six-year high worldwide. According to the study, “More than 5.3 billion people (76% of the world’s population) live in countries with a high or very high level of restrictions on religion.”
But would you consider religious freedom to be an issue of American national security? At the recent 2014 National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama declared that “freedom of religion matters to our national security.” The President also says that “promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy.”
Is it appropriate that religious freedom be a part of our foreign policy strategy? Are you willing to focus U.S. foreign policy to drive open a wedge for those 76% of world citizens who currently do not enjoy the same religious freedoms as we do in the United States? Is freedom of religion a red line?
We must consider the implications of choosing certain freedoms, such as religion, and singling them out. By focusing on freedom of religion, it implies that it is more important than other rights such as the freedom of speech, press, and assembly, or the right to bear arms, to petition the government, or to a trial by a jury of our peers.
If we choose to fight for religious freedom throughout the world, we must also accept the idea that others may choose religions that may run counter to our own values.
President Obama Speaks at the 2014 National Prayer Breakfast: http://www.whitehouse.gov/photos-and-video/video/2014/02/06/president-obama-speaks-2014-national-prayer-breakfast
Religious Hostilities Reach Six-Year High: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/
Department of Defense: Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense: http://www.defense.gov/news/defense_strategic_guidance.pdf
Mullen: Debt is a top national security threat: http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/08/27/debt.security.mullen/