In early May, the Religious Freedom Institute, together with members from the International Religious Freedom Roundtable met with senior staff of the National Security Council team to discuss the critical role that religious freedom can play in America's national security strategy.
The meeting was led by Greg Mitchell, co-chair of the IRF Roundtable and RFI President Thomas Farr. Farr, together with Dennis Hoover of the Institute for Global Engagement, presented a policy brief with recommendations for the new administration. These included practical steps for incorporating religious freedom into foreign policy, including as a critical component of the National Security Strategy.
RFI Senior Advisor Timothy Shah presented evidence from his work. Then Nilay Saiya, a Senior Fellow at RFI and Assistant Professor of Political Science at State University of New York, Brockport, presented data-based evidence from his work specifically showing the linkages that exist between religious freedom and religion related violence and terrorism.
The meeting came at a critical time just weeks prior to President Trump's first major international trip, one that started in Saudi Arabia. The trip included both a major speech by President Trump on religion and violence and the launch of a new global center to counter extremism based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
As the case was made to the National Security Council, if those efforts do not promote religious freedom they will ultimately prove either futile or to only exacerbate the problems they seek to address.