• Radicalization and Extremism
    Reporting on Extremist Activity
    Dana Coester, editor-in-chief at 100 Days in Appalachia, shares best practices for reporting on extremist activity at the local level. Bruce Hoffman, Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis senior fellow on counterterrorism and homeland security at CFR, provides context and background on domestic terrorism and extremist groups. Carla Anne Robbins, adjunct senior fellow at CFR and former deputy editorial page editor at the New York Times, hosts the webinar.
  • United States
    2021 Conference on Diversity in International Affairs
    The Conference on Diversity in International Affairs brings together college and graduate students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds for plenaries on foreign policy topics, seminars on professional development, and opportunities to interact virtually with senior foreign policy professionals. The 2021 conference featured a keynote session with President of the Ford Foundation Darren Walker. The 2021 Conference on Diversity in International Affairs is a collaborative effort by the Council on Foreign Relations, the Global Access Pipeline, and the International Career Advancement Program. For information about the conference in previous years, please click here
  • Religion
    Religious Nationalism Around the World
    SINGH:  Hi, everyone. I'm Simran Jeet Singh, senior advisor for diversity and inclusion at YSC Consulting and a visiting professor at Union Theological Seminary. I'm delighted to be moderating today's discussion on religious nationalism around the world. And I'd like to introduce our three esteemed panelists for today, Sylvester Johnson, Azza Karam, and Mark Juergensmeyer. You have access to their full bios on the CFR conference app. But I want to share a brief overview of who you have the privilege of hearing and learning from today. Dr. Sylvester Johnson is the founding director of the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, and also assistant vice provost for humanities at Virginia Tech, and executive director of the university's “Tech for Humanity” initiative. Dr. Johnson holds a faculty appointment in the department of religion and culture and authored The Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity, a study of race and religious hatred. Dr. Azza Karam serves as the secretary general of Religions for Peace, the largest multi religious leadership platform. Since 2004, Dr. Karam has served in various positions with the United Nations as well as other inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations since the early 1990s. And Mark Juergensmeyer is distinguished professor of sociology and global studies, and affiliate professor of religious studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was also the founding director of the Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies. Professor Juergensmeyer is the author or editor of over thirty books. So I'll begin by turning to you, Professor Juergensmeyer, to help us set the stage. When we talk about religious nationalism. What do we mean? And as we're looking around the world today, how are you seeing religious nationalism, manifesting itself and being deployed?   JUERGENSMEYER: Thanks, Simran, for that question, and it's a good one. Because it doesn't mean that religion is nationalist by its nature. Nor does it mean the nationalism is religious by its nature. But from time to time in the history of the nation state, there has been a kind of fusion of national identity with religious affiliation. And sometimes this is an innocent sort of identity. But sometimes it's much more strident, particularly when it's meant to exclude groups within society that are not part of the dominant religion. And alas, I think this is what we've been seeing in the last 30 years since I've been studying this phenomenon around the world. And this really is a global phenomenon. I've been tripping around the world from place to place talking with people, because I'm the kind of sociologist who feels like that the best way to know how people think, is to go and talk with them. So that's what I've been trying to do. And it's been a really interesting series of studies. But the conclusion is that this is a global phenomenon. Initially we thought this was a Muslim problem. But now it's become an issue around the world. And alas, it carries that tinge of exclusivity with it. In the global era, everybody can live everywhere. And this means that there is now a new kind of movement to just standardize the notion of nationalism and identify it with one particular culture. Well, that can alienate a lot of people, and sometimes, sadly, in a very brutal way.   SINGH: Thank you. I appreciate that. And Dr. Karam, I want to know what you're seeing when it comes to religious nationalism. Does it feel like it's changing, adapting growing in influence? Or does it seem like more of the same, the same phenomenon and logic and simply a new form?   KARAM: Thank you very much Simran for that excellent question. And let me begin by saying, I have to give due credit to CFR and to Irina Faskianos and the team at CFR for putting this this series of conversations together. I have learned so much and been very enriched. And I think Simran that you chose that question very deliberately, because it's a very hard one to answer. So let me just take a stab at it. I actually think quite frankly, that once we saw the big meta narratives of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, collapse of the Berlin Wall, there was, if you will, either an intentional or unintentional search for bigger narratives, those because we're used to big narratives. There's liberalism, communism, socialism, and all of a sudden, none of that seems to have been very workable. In fact, plenty of things crumbling in terms of the ideologies.   So here we are searching for new ideas, and I think Professor Juergensmeyer had his hand on the pulse many years ago when he identified religious nationalism as an ideology. That is actually, quite frankly up and coming. Just ten to fifteen years ago, we wouldn't have dreamed of a situation where religion can become such a, as anybody heard of the Islamic State before had we would we have thought of something called an Islamic State, I mean that the fact that they dare to call themselves such in the first place, I think we realized that it has become almost normalized to identify nation with religion before we used to see two maybe nations around the world like this. Now, you realize it's a much more common tendency to see religion as very much part of a national identity, of a territorial identity. I thought we had circumvented this and grown out of it from the old empires. I mean, the old empires used to be religious in nature, right? I had assumed we had grown out of this. But clearly, the collapse of the meta narratives of political meta narratives has led to the collapse, has led to an emergence, a search, a hunger, and now, I think, a marriage of convenience that is expanding in scope, between religious and political narratives, such that sometimes it's exceedingly difficult to make the dividing line. Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict really ever, was it ever a situation of Muslims versus Jews? Really? Since when? Palestinians are Christian too, but we see it in those terms over time that we almost don't notice that there are multiple religions at stake in this space, because it's become so religionized in the way that the discourse itself is manifested. It's become so incredibly politicized in the way that the religion is understood and practiced.   So this is now the new normal, unfortunately, and it tears my heart out. And it deeply disturbs me, because politics is about the interests of the few, to try to maximize the interests of the few. Politics has never been about the interests of everybody. There's a clear line of distinction, massive, wide expanse between philanthropy and politics. Politics is about the interest of me and you, if we happen to be on the same side, all the better, but usually, we're on different sides. So how do I get my interest? Religion isn't supposed to be in this space. It's not supposed to be about this space. And if history has taught us anything, it is that the minute this marriage happens, and it becomes normal, it becomes the new normal. That is when we unravel, we unravel as human beings, we unravel as nation states, we unravel quite frankly, our own religious institutions continue to unravel, because they're not beginning to unravel. They've been unraveling for a while, but they continue to unravel. So this unraveling may be good, maybe an opportunity, but quite frankly, it is usually associated with violence, and that violence is never an opportunity. That is deathly. That is the cost of lives. And as we're seeing today, now, in almost every corner of the world, that religious political affiliation has led to an is leading to increasing violence, which is leading to active loss of life. That formula is not good.   SINGH: I appreciate that. That's, that's really well said and Dr. Johnson, I'd love for you to take us from the global and help bring us home. Clearly, religious nationalism is not just an external problem, as we've as we might like to think we've seen the rise of white nationalism and Christian nationalism here in the US. How does what we're seeing out there, meaning other forms of religious nationalism, how does that comport with what we're seeing here in America today?   JOHNSON: Thanks so much, Simran, that's really great question. And you're right, the problem of religious nationalism is certainly not exclusive of the United States. We see multiple ways that some of the developments happening abroad in France, for example, the effort to require Muslims, Imams particularly, to sign on to a charter of French values that targets Islam as being a religion that is somehow in conflict with French values. This is a new, unique imposition onto Muslims are being asked to do things that no other religion is being asked to do, on gender parity, for example, which is not being asked to Jews or Christians. Or if we think about what's happening at the conflicts around the meaning of being a citizen of India between Muslims and Hindus in way that is attached to definition of the nation that securitizers. Or even in China. The incarceration of Muslims and forced placement into so-called training camps that are actually carceral systems. We see important and troubling parallels in the United States. We just had a Muslim travel ban in the United States, for example, for many years, we have an incredibly elaborate really deeply harmful system of securitization in the United States. That's been part of the so-called counter terrorism. One example of this is the FBI is program called countering violent extremism, which sticks out and criminalizes social activism among Muslims.   That that calls it radicalization, that actually ends up entrapping and criminalizing, particularly young Muslims who might be involved, for example, ironically, activists who target anti-Muslim bias. This gets read by the FBI and police departments as terrorists radicalization, even though it's a social justice effort. Or even the effort to raise funds in order to support indigent Muslim families of these forms of activism have for years now then classified as either precursors of, or evidence of terrorist behavior, or Muslim radicalization, and has been criminalized. And so one of the parallels we see is the association between the efforts to securer times, the state, and this form of religious nationalism, where Muslims are treated as somehow being inherently at odds with or in opposition to what it means to be truly part of the US. And there, there are other ways that this happened. So what I just described was very much about the national security entities and programs and carceral systems, that is not at all suggested separate and apart from what we may think of in a more popular fashion. As religious nationalism among non-state actors among religious communities, for example, or in popular literature, or in educational systems. And so we also see in in more popular ways of recounting the essence of the nation that is in by Christian nationalism, pointing to the roots of the United States, particularly in white Protestant religion, for instance. And then just more broadly in Christianity, that of course, that's at odds with Muslims and Jews. African religions, such as Yoruba and Santeria, for example, those have also been targeted. So both in terms of just defining what it means to belong to the United States, more culturally, and also more particularly in terms of securitization practices. These are very troubling and important parallels.   SINGH: Yeah, that's really insightful. And I think what I'm hearing from you all is both the sort of the real-life examples around the world, including at home. And also the elucidation of what's happening and why. Dr. Juergensmeyer, I want to turn to you. As we start thinking about solution building. Now we have a better sense of what religious nationalism is, we feel a sense of urgency around it. And I would love to have a little bit more clarity in diagnosing the problem. Some say religious nationalism is a chicken and egg issue. Is it religious nationalism a religious symptom of a political problem, or a political symptom of a religious problem, or is it both at the same time? So I'd love for you to help us dig into that question a little bit and better understand what's going on here so that we might address it more effectively.   JUERGENSMEYER: In my study of religious nationalist movements around the world, I think my answer is decisively the first of those two options you gave. I'm a professor of just putting together multiple-choice questions. I know, often the answer is C, all of the above. D, none of the above. But in this case, I think that religious nationalism is where religion is a symptom of a political problem. And I say that because as I studied these movements, I don't see any, or very rarely do I see people who are embracing a political perspective and a national perspective, for reasons of belief or reasons of faith. It's for reasons of identity. I mean, religion can mean many different things. It can mean, the piety of your grandmother as she's lighting a candle. Or it could mean people who don't seem to be all that religious, but they are defending Islam, or they're defending Christianity, or they're defending Buddhism. And that's a sign of religion as a part of identity, a part of a social identity. And I think this is primarily the feature of religious nationalism around the world today. There are some exceptions, but primarily. And that means the sense of a fractured identity of people who feel like they are not being represented, they're not being heard. This is fundamentally a political problem. It's a political social problem. And that it's, you know. It's not just a problem of leadership, but also a problem of the conception of a political entity, the conception of public order of public life.   And there was a time when we kind of dominated with the Enlightenment vision of secular societies. But even the Enlightenment vision thought that these would-be nation states should be around relatively culturally homogenous groups, in the European mind that spoke the same language, spoke the same religion. In an era of globalization, all this is up for grabs. The three big problems in the global era; one is identity, accountability, and security identity. Who are you if everybody can live everywhere? And does? You know, who are you? And who is the nation? And accountability? Who's in charge? If everything is made everywhere? And you're part of massive communication, global communication patterns? And how can you be secure? How can you be safe? So it's no surprise, I think, that all of these cases that we've been talking around the world, including our own country, religion is seen as a sort of antidote to these divisive features of globalization. That's not religion's fault. That happens, it's just a part of the character of societies that we're in as the world increasingly shifts towards a more globalized world. And for many of this, this is good. We enjoy personally. in Southern California, I really enjoy the diversity of ethnic communities, because I love to eat. And the kind of food that is suddenly available is just remarkably proliferating, and not just the food, but the cultures.  I don't have to go to India to meet with Punjabi anymore, I could just go down the street. And there they are. So I mean, for me, this is wonderful to be in touch with all aspects of the world, just in my own backyard. But I can see how that threatens some people. Like I see how some people feel that their world is falling apart, it's not secure, they don't know what's happening. They don't know who's in charge anymore. And they don't know who they are anymore. And that's, that's very deep. This is not just a political issue, it's a personal issue. We're talking people's sense of identity; their lives were deeply touched. So you can, I think, understand the kind of passion that's so frequently associated with a passion that sometimes turns out in awful ways. And that's, of course, the problem. But at least you can understand what created in the first place.   SINGH: Thank you, Mark. Appreciate that. And Dr. Karam, I'd love to hear your thoughts. Are you seeing the same things as Professor Juergensmeyer in terms of how politics and religion are intersecting to produce religious nationalism?   KARAM: So first of all, allow me to answer that question by what I should have done before, which is to wear another hat entirely, not to speak for Religions for Peace, but to speak as the professor of religion and development at the University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. So I can have a little bit more freedom to say what I'm about to say, which is going to provoke everybody and nobody. First of all, Professor Juergensmeyer very astutely observed that we were dominated quote, unquote, by “enlightenment thinking.” The truth of the matter is that some of us never were dominated by enlightenment thinking, because that was pretty much pertinent to the Western Hemisphere. If that whole space. I come from a part of the world where a nationalist Egyptian nationalist leader in 1919 said very clearly, at the height of the liberation struggle from the British colonial administration said, I am a Christian by religion, but a Muslim by culture. He was a Coptic, Christian and Egyptian, a liberation fighter. So I think we have to understand that for most of the world, religion has always been so integrally part of the cultural domain. So even if you were secular in your orientation, not necessarily observant in your religion, quite frankly, it didn't matter, you still belong to that religion in some way, shape, or form, which is the point I agree with Professor Juergensmeyer that it was about identity. But my point is, it been about identity forever and a day, always in some parts of the world. And I think what by not noticing this, by looking at the entire world through the prism of enlightenment thinking, we ignored, we overlooked, we sidetracked, we marginalized that appreciation for religion.   As part of our culture, as part of who we are, as part of how we speak, I have heard people around me say “inshallah” a thousand times, not because they necessarily believe that there's an Allah, but because it's a way of speaking, and I'm used to it, and they got used to it.  That speaks volumes for how we have integrated the religious into the very pores and fabric of our being. And by not seeing it by consecutive Western administrations over so long, by not understanding and indeed, now seeing it, and trying to instrumentalize it, and the actors in its name to respond to those who are reclaiming the religious as the political, that are reclaiming our religious identity. They always were Muslims, or Christians or Jews, they always were. But they're reclaiming it as a political statement. They're reclaiming it as a matter of asserting an interest. And the interest is in land, or in space, or in demography, or you name it. It's about reclaiming the religious discourse, as part of our political orientation, and our interest-based negotiation with one another. This reclaiming is happening in a certain part of the world, too. It's happening right here in the United States of America. We saw quite a bit of it with the previous administration, but we're still seeing it in action today. So to think that this is a recent dimension is to continue to look through a lens that has yet to appreciate and become just minimally literate about how the rest of the world has always had religion as part of its identity.   When we spoke, and thank you so much, Sylvester, for mentioning the countering violent extremism dynamics and rhetoric, which suggested that the counter point was we had to create an alternative discourse. What? The FBI had to create an alternative Muslim discourse?  Really? Since when? I mean, hallelujah, if they could I claim it, but, good grief, really? But this notion that you can use the religious because you nicely parcel it out. And now let's use it, and now let's renovate it. And let's support those who are trying to renovate, and modernize, and become moderates. Since when is my faith a tool for any politician? Since when will I cede that ground for anyone to determine how I live my faith? How I understand my reality, how I exercise my right of citizenship and essence to be? Since when does anyone take that right? Unfortunately, that right has been taken left, right, and center. On the one side by academics, on the other side by governments. And today, religious nationalism means that at the same time, as in the old days, in the 1919 era, when we were fighting off British colonialism, and British colonialism was coming back and saying, oh no no no, we're very much on the side of women, we really would like to support women and women's rights. It's all about empowering women in this country, in the street, because the religion is so anti.   I realized we're actually part of that same process again, today, in 2021. And we're still talking about trying to fend off a cultural sense of domination in the name of the religion, but actually, its politics, its interest, at the end of the day. So as I refuse to cede the grounds of my faith and its narrative, I also refuse to accept an ideology, whether it comes from within my own religious community or from outside of it, that tries to tell me that religious nationalism can actually be a good thing. It isn't a good thing, because when you nationalize my faith, you have nationalized my body. And that is not on the market, and never was and never will be. So how do we change this way of thinking? Well, we have to completely break up that paradigm that assumes that religion and faith are something that we can use, and we can nicely distill. And then let's see what we can do with it once we distill it. You can't distinguish an identity, you can't distill the way I think and break up and say, Okay, we'll take your words up to this point, the word “inshallah” will be omitted. Well, I'm sorry, inshallah was actually what I wanted to say at the very beginning. So there's a cacophony of issues here. But if I fight this struggle alone, within my own faith tradition, or within my own country, I get nowhere, really, really fast. I get lynched.   As you can see from so many examples in so many different parts of the world, what has been supremely helpful, supremely important is the alliance building that takes place between people who have their faith at the core of their hearts and identity, but at the same time, are committed to justice for everyone, including the other who's hurting me, including the other who's hurting me. And this is the call that we have at this moment in time, in Religions for Peace, that the reason I left the UN to join this because I realized that the moment is now to call for those who are hurting us to be part of the beloved community that I want to be part of. This is not the time to keep alienating and pointing fingers and saying mine or yours or this or hers. No. All religions, all faiths are tested today. All religious institutions, all religious communities, all faith-based NGOs, every single one of us is being tested today. We are people of faith. Yes, some of us the definition between those of us who are fighting and struggling for human rights for all, including our planet, and those who are deciding to carve out a space for themselves and claiming that it is for their own protection and their own their own space, as if we can live in that isolation. As if we can we have. We have a global pandemic telling us not one of us can live in safety. Yet we are fighting one another in different parts of the world. Because we think that this enclave will remain safe. Well, good luck with that. If and when religions come together, to serve together not even just to speak together, even though God knows that is brilliant. But if and when religions are capable of coming together to serve together that will break the paradigm that we are currently seeing where those who have interests to serve politically, including defunct political institutions, which are lacking in legitimacy entirely. Where those same institutions seek to serve, to take their religion to serve their interests. The only way to combat that is when the religious, the faithful comes together to serve together every other one, not only their own communities, that is the antidote.   SINGH: That's powerful. Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Karam. And Dr. Johnson over to you. I'd love to hear your reflections on the relationship between religion and politics as it comes to religious nationalism. And where do we go from here?   JOHNSON: I really want to echo the comments of the other panelists who pointed to the very troubling ways that the political domain is intersecting with religion. One of the things that has become important in trying to explain the phenomenon is called the racialization of religion. I think is very helpful for thinking about historically, across many centuries. So Dr. Karam, you were talking about these empires of old have really used this political understanding of religion. And then we have these more modern examples of this, where there was a sense of belonging to a political community that was rooted in some religious identity. So the history of Christendom, we see that in the Islamic societies, we see actually different kinds of structures that point to some possible solutions. But all of that is to say that, if we think about one of the most influential figures in shaping politics, he didn't claim to be doing this, but in relationship to religion and race. is Samuel Huntington. He wrote an article in the 1990s that was entitled The Clash of Civilizations that became a book a few years later, that unlike many books that academics write, became very common reading by people who were not even in academia, particularly those who were in the U.S. State Department. and in other countries, who were particularly in the West, thinking about the relationship of their nation states. What they were beginning to see as some Western struggle against Islam.   I say beginning, but obviously there was something called the Crusades, many, many centuries ago. So that's not the first time something like that this happened. But it is certainly a more recent iteration. And one of the things that Huntington explained is that, he said, in the past, the conflicts of the world were based on nations against nations. But in our time, we're going to see cultures against cultures. It's going to be this deep cultural thing. And he claimed to be talking about cultures. And if you actually read that book and see what he's talking about, it was against Muslims, and it was against China. And who was against Muslims and China? It was Europe. It was it was the West. And so he didn't claim to be talking about religion and rights, but what he was actually doing, and it wasn't new, I'm not trying to claim you invented racism, but he made it very popular with other people, such as Bernard Lewis, who had a similar kind of set of claims that were also widely embraced popularly, as well as by people who were in foreign policy and state policy. They were treating religion as a fundamental type that functions in the way that scholars have tried to describe what race does. And that is it's seeing this fundamental type as having a certain set of characteristics. It's not reducible to biology, even though people often think of race through biology, we have history we see it's actually all kinds of things, language, and the susceptibility to criminality, etc.   But all of that is to say that the racialization of religion really manifests this intersection of religion and politics, because what we get is an understanding of who gets to belong in our political community. You're not really a member of fill in the blank. It could be name your country. France, India, China, the United States, unless you are this. And so what we're dealing with the resurgence of Christian nationalism in the United States is this intensified emphasis on claiming a story about the roots of the West and then drilling down to the US. And then projecting that globally up. We can think of Eric Prince, for example, who was a former military person, led his own private military company of Blackwater, that generate a lot of money. It was based on an anti-Muslim bigotry, and it became part of the way the United States operationalized its struggle against Muslims in the name of securing the nation. So what does that mean for solutions? And I think that we certainly have to go beyond some of the important and necessary measures that have been talked about before of really using education of encouraging dialogue. There's certainly a place for that. We should not stop dialogue, and not stop educating people. But we also have to deal at multiple levels with this.   So in different ways, all of the panelists have been talking about a certain construction of the West, for example, that is based on a falsehood. Most people in the West have never heard of Averroës Ibn Rushd. He was celebrated in his own time that 12th century as the father of secularism. And he was especially call that by people who live in the so-called Christian West. But today we hear that Muslims somehow are beyond the pale of these formations of the secular and that there's something that is just supposed to be admissible, even though Western Europeans attributed his genealogy secularism to a Muslim scholar, it's also true. You can study philosophy today, in most western countries, and you will almost never read any writings of a Muslim. You will not be required to learn Arabic. And with rare exceptions, that is just if you understand the actual history of Western philosophy, that should be ridiculous, because the actual history of philosophy was something that was largely rooted in engagement, the Muslim thinkers. So what are we trying to say here? We have to, in a very vigorous way, really demythologize this construction of the West from the ground up and it needs to happen in at many levels and needs to be reflected in our language about foreign policy, the debate of whether Turkey should be part of the UN.   You know, the idea that it was a different continent is absurd. I mean, even thinking of Europe, as a very separate place on the earth. But we have to demythologize the West. And we have to do that in multiple levels, not just in school textbooks. But in terms of our policy and our media coverage and how we represent, we have to focus on the future of technologies. Because I do think, that when we particularly understand the securitization practices, there is so much control over populations and, as Eric Prince demonstrates, there is so much control over populations, that is happening through technology, if it's Mossad or the CIA, or the FBI. The people who are writing code, who are surveilling, who are developing algorithms that are going to be part of the securitization practices. So we have to focus on the future talent that is actually going to create technologies that can have so many consequences, that will have so many quantum consequences for human security. And we have to make sure that future talent is grounded in a very critical understanding of the things that we're talking about, which means that we have to have a much more comprehensive approach to what we think preparing future talent technology is, because there's going to be a lot more control over very vulnerable populations, through the kinds of state surveillance practices and predictive algorithms that are happening. And that is a huge, huge opportunity and an urgent need for us to actually address these issues. And finally, I would say that we have to move beyond the Manichaean divide, that we often use globally.   And this is a real problem in the West, particularly, to talk about things like human rights and rogue nations. We have to stop using, particularly, a Western bias against nonwhite governments and nonwhite populations. When we think about justice, and what government is just because if you pay attention to the way governments treat, particularly their minority populations, I don't mean that only narrowly, but also in terms of their power. You can't come up with this Manichaean binary list of good nations over here and rogue nations over there. If you look at the way the United States or any Western nation treats minority populations, then suddenly that list of who's on the good side, who's on the bad side looks very different. Why do I raise that? Because so much of the targeting of religious minorities again is happening through this securitization, discourse, and practices. And in the West, it's this idea that we need to guard against some threat from non-Western nations from non-Western culture. And in Huntington's term, you know, either from China, which he reduced to being based on the Confucian culture, or Islamic societies as the Muslim enemy. And when we pay attention to that, we will realize that binary system of dividing countries and the good and bad actually doesn't work, we need a more complicated process. And that's actually going to have very direct implications for how our foreign policies and our national security practices would otherwise get implemented. You'd have to be much bigger and more equitable.   SINGH: Thank you, Dr. Johnson. Dr. Juergensmeyer, over to you. As we, as we think about solutions, where we go from here, surely, we all know some of the most obvious ways forward, that we've repeated for decades, right dialogue, religious literacy, etc. It seems that we need to go deeper, or at least go further. And so when you envision solutions for religious nationalism, what do you see?   JUERGENSMEYER: Good question. And in an answering that, let me turn back just a second to comments from my wonderful colleagues. It's been so much fun to be a part of this discussion. Because I'd love to go out with these guys and have a chance to just chat all evening. Unfortunately, you can't do that on Zoom. But I've learned so much from Professor Johnson and Professor Karam, which I agree with almost entirely. And following up on a comment by Professor Johnson talking about the invention of secularism, which is also part of the Enlightenment project, along with the invention of religion, as if it was something different from ordinary culture. These are really recent inventions. But in doing so, they really produced alternative ideologies and some of the big, biggest threats to public life are not just religious nationalism, but anti-religious nationalism. A second are crackdowns like in, Azza Karam, I don't want to pick up on your country, Egypt, but here you have a rather striking secondary dictatorship if I can use that word. It was used to put down the threat of religious nationalism, of Islamic nationalism in the country. Well, maybe the previous government would have not been, you know, good for Egyptians but the alternative is pretty severe also. And it's done in the name of countering religious nationalism. Of course, this is China's position now, against the Muslim Uyghurs and the Tibetan Buddhist.   The threat of the possibility of religious nationalism has created its own problems, and its own kind of authoritarianism. And then a follow up on something that Professor Karam said. At one point earlier, she talked about the religion as a nation of politics, and, and how, yeah, it's true that religious identities have been part of public life for forever. But the kind of stridency in this particular politicization is a is a real thing. Let me give you a specific example. Right before the pandemic began, I was in Iraq doing research for the book that came out this year called God at War. And I met in prison with a farmer militant, while he was still militant with ISIS, although he's now in prison in Kurdistan and northern Iraq, and I was able to have some long interviews with him. At one point I was asking you, how did you have this happen? How did you get into this? Tell me your life story. And he started talking about early days in Mosul where he used to have Shia playmates, and the Shia and the Sunni, all got along together, they're all part of one family. And there's no sense of any kind of major difference. And I said, well, what happened? And he said, well, after the American invasion and the rise of Shia political power in Iraq. And then we began to realize that they were really out to persecute us Sunnis. And then he said in prison, after he had joined one of these movements, he really became radicalized and saw the Shia, not just as enemies but as demonic beings, as devils, and people who should be killed. And I said, do you still believe that? He said, yes. You know, if I had Shia around, I would kill them. And I said, what about your old playmates that you grew up with when you were a little boy in Mosel? He said yes. Even them.   What an extraordinary thing. What happened in his life, and what happened in Iraq society to make this dramatic shift? Well, if it was a cataclysmic event in which religion became politicized, or politics became religionized in a way that it hadn't been before. And I think, in different ways, that's what's happening around the world, where people used to get along with each other, they didn't think in terms of religion, and they thought about identity and getting along with each other. And now increasingly, those labels carry social freight and social significance, because the premium on it is political power, and national identity. And that's the issue. So how do you free yourself from that? I think part of it is understanding and not just dismissing the religious nationalists, the extremists, as simply crazy. The other do crazy things. I mean, January 6, was pretty crazy. And then you look at the different people who were involved. You know, they were just ordinary folks back in suburban Phoenix or wherever, and then they got on a flight, and they came up to Washington to join the cause. Well, okay. What can we do in our lives? And what can we do as a society to give a sense that this kind of multicultural experience of national community is really a wonderful thing. Is really a very positive thing. And that they are included. Because I think, ultimately, that's what fuels the passion.  I grew up in a farm in Southern Illinois, that's an area that's MAGA hat country. So when I go home, as I sometimes do, and meet my all high school classmates, who are big supporters of the former administration, and they look at me and say, you're in California now. And then their face darkens and say, are you one of those liberals? And I look at them and this came to mind, I don't know why I said this, but it the right thing to say. I said, I'm your old classmate. I'm your old classmate. I'm not something. I'm your old classmate. So I guess the response to something that's very human and personal is a very human and personal response. To reach out to those old classmates. And say, you're included, and I know you're watching television, yours online, you see what looks like a wonderful party that only people on the east coast in the West Coast can take part in. But you're excluded from that party. But you are included. You're part of the party. You're part of this wonderful life and an important part of it. It wouldn't be as good without you. So don't give up. Don't despair. You're still loved. That's a tough message to get across. But I think that's ultimately, really the only one.   SINGH: Thank you. Thank you for sharing that. And at this time, I'd like to invite participants to join our conversation. With their questions. We'll do our best to get to as many questions as possible. Krista will now get instructions on how to join the question queue.   OPERATOR: (Gives queuing instructions)   SINGH: Thank you. I'll start with a question that's written from Satpal Singh. He says for those of us operating in local communities and congregations and classrooms, what can we be doing to help combat religious nationalism? How do we ensure that we are protecting ourselves and others from being drawn in by its allure? And how can we be proactive in rooting out religious nationalism in our own communities? So Dr. Karam, I think this might be a good one for you to start with, please.   KARAM: So I think this this resonates very strongly with a question that Professor Juergensmeyer also asked is, how do we free ourselves from this, this space where we've dehumanized one another, but at the same time, we're working together against the other? And I think the issue here is precisely what the message of Religions for Peace has been for the last fifty years. There is no escape from the fact that we have to work together for the other not just for ourselves, as long as we're continuing to work for our own interests, even if our interests are shared. But we're working from the principle of, I need to save my people, or I need to save my family, or I need to save myself that that limited interest per definition will make us draw boundaries. Whereas I think to be honest, I hate to say this, but I think the pandemic is giving us an opportunity to see how incredibly intertwined our basic survival is. It's not just the aspiration to be rich and famous. And then and but it's the basic survival is so incredibly interdependent. That pandemic is telling us this, is showing us this, if we don't seize this opportunity to realize that this is the moment that I serve you, as opposed to serving myself, that this is the moment I defend you, as opposed to only defending myself. That if we don't take that forward, and if that doesn't become our mantra, how do I serve you? How do I insist, be deliberate in serving you? And in other words, in loving you insistently even though you hurt me? How do I insist on serving you? I think if we don't start having that as our mantra collectively, teaching it to our children having this be part of the way that our families serve and operate in any given social context, I think we are going to continue to be sucked into the spaces which are built on the fear of the other as opposed to the love of the other as part of loving ourselves. I believe that's a very fundamental, by the way, every single faith tradition known to humankind, says that. Every single one. Don't tell me Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic! Every single faith tradition says that. Now surely, they can't all be wrong. That's it.   SINGH:  Thank you, Dr. Johnson, please.   JOHNSON: Sure, I would certainly agree with that. And I would add for civic organizations, institutions that are trying to address these problems, they're very important strategies that should, again, should certainly include some things that we've talked about before. Education and dialogue--we should continue those things. But we also have to include things such as engaging with and changing policy. I want to just point again to the securitization role that the way that carceral systems, law enforcement, national security entities are in multiple countries, certainly, including the United States, but globally, are a significant factor and the religious nationalism and targeting religious minorities, and giving religious majority is a platform. So if you are part of a religious community, or civic organization that wants to get involved in addressing religious nationalism, you might include in the work that you do, learning about and engaging with and trying to change the policy around things such as securitization practices, if there are efforts to deprive religious groups who are actually suffering from state persecution, then that's something you can address at the level of how you vote. There are people who are running for office who have a clear set of commitments to ensuring that if if they're able to participate in governance, that they're actually going to address the problem of targeting persecuted minorities. And again, I want to be clear that persecution, for example, does not mean in the United States that you are a white Christian who feels aggrieved. And that you feel like you're being discriminated against as a white Christian, because people don't agree with your vision of the United States, it means that you're actually suffering from a violation of rights. And so I think we just have to clarify that. So engaging with the policy kind of voting that goes on. And then I think, even in terms of the international context, becoming involved in social justice, human rights work, is another way. I think it's important for religious communities to take the opportunity not to romanticize their religious history and their religious identity, but to include in whatever kind of religious education that they're doing engagement with the deep problems of that in ways, for example, that their religious history has participated in depriving others of rights, of inflicting harms upon people. And again, that's should not be seen as attacking your religion. It should be seen as understanding all the range of things that have happened in the past, so that when people are coming to be part of that religious community, what they're getting is not a romanticized view of it. They're getting a very realistic understanding of it so that those opportunities for justice and for solidarity and for coexistence said that Dr. Juergensmeyer and Dr. Karam have articulated can actually flourish.   SINGH: Thank you. And Dr. Juergensmeyer. Would you like to add to that?   JUERGENSMEYER: Yeah, and just to answer my own case that I gave about this guy in Iraq, who used to pal around with Shia, and now that he's become, you know, a hardened ISIS supporter. Well, you know, ISIS is really a movement for Sunni empowerment. And he joined it because he wanted the Sunnis in Mosul in the western part of Iraq to feel like they were included. And Dr. Johnson is absolutely right. This is not just as I indicated a human problem, it certainly is. But it's also a policy problem. Because if the Shia government reached out in a way that dramatically, for example, tried to rebuild Mosul, where it's just destroyed flat like a pancake, and so you have hundreds of thousands of people living out in refugee camps. I've seen them, I've talked with them. The United Nations has done a wonderful job in providing for these refugee camps, but they can't live there forever. So if the Shia government--it is its job, really, to make everybody feel welcome. And if it created those kinds of conditions, then I think there would be a rapid change in the response of the Sunni Arabs. And the same is true in the United States. We think of this, you know, the Christians being the dominant religion, but that's not really true. The dominant culture in the United States is a kind of secular multiculturalism. And at least that's the way it's perceived by the people in my high school back in Southern Illinois.  They don't think of themselves as the majority. They think of themselves as the minority and increasingly so in a country that is becoming visibly more secular and more multicultural. Well, they need to be welcomed, they need to be, we need to reach out to them in a way that they feel like they are part of the party, and not just the unwelcome remnants of the past.   SINGH: Thank you. Krista, I'll pass it to you to answer a, or to involve a live question, please.   OPERATOR: Our next question is a live question from Rich Procida from Bible Study for Progressives.   PROCIDA: Hi. So I'm concerned with the negative definition of politics. Isn't this really the result of the failure of religion to address the important social and political concerns? Isn't the rise of nationalism a failure of religion? And isn't the solution to actually engage those issues as a faith? Not to withdraw into some personal area of personal salvation, but to actually engage as a church, as a community, in social justice, advocacy? And then maybe, one suggestion I made at our breakout group which came up, which I think is pretty good, is that the thing that unifies Americans--I always speak as a progressive Christian and American--is democracy. And isn't that something that we can all rally around? And isn't that anti-theoretical to nationalism?   JOHNSON: I think this is a great point. I we've been talking about politics in ways that I think what you're pointing to is a fair observation that we've made some assumptions and not been precise in our language. This is why I was talking about the racialization of religion as a way of understanding the problem of the intersection because I agree with you, I think that it's if we ask where is there a space that is not political? And what would it look like if religion or anything were to not be involved in any way politically? I don't even know if that's possible. But I'm reminded of in the United States, a civil rights movement was largely criminalized and criticized because it was being political. Here was a group of Black Southern Christians who organize themselves in their own language in order to fight for human rights. And as you just described, who saw their work as necessarily involving the need to change laws because they were trying to fight for social justice. And they were criticized because they we're being political. And what happened was that they actually shifted the way that so many people in the U.S. came to view the relationship between religion and politics, often to different kinds of ends. But I think your point is right. Globally, we've talked, we refer to different kinds of movements that were liberation movements happening within Islam or within Christianity. These have gone on within Judaism, Hinduism, and there's so many examples of this. So I think you make a very important observation. And I would just say we were not being precise in the language. We were referring to the nationalism particularly as a as a problem when you get a certain kind of intersection of religion and politics. But yes, you are right. Not only should people not retreat into some apolitical fear, I'm not sure is humanly possible to live in the world in a way that does not someway become political.   KARAM: Can I also just make a quick point here? I think that exactly as Professor Johnson said, the issue isn't so much that politics is good, and religion is bad, or that religion is good, and politics is bad. That's not the point. The point is that the politicization of religion or the religionization of politics, is a rather toxic equation. And that unless we understand the causes and the roots of the manifestations of this, we will end up finding what is happening now, which is contexts where certain political regimes are making use of religious discourse to justify what is fundamentally actually undemocratic. Because there is no way and there's no—there's not a single context around the world, where a political administration has decided to work with all religions, with all the religions inherent in its boundaries, in order to serve everybody. That's not what's happening. What's happening is that certain political regimes and administrations are working with certain religions in order to marginalize and or to justify the marginalization of certain interest groups. If it indeed was a multi-religious encounter to serve the political administration's interests of serving all we would find ourselves with a radically different political paradigm globally because then it would be every nation for the other. It wouldn't be this nation against that nation, and this race against that race, and this community against this community. The point here is that the alignment between religions, one religion and one political administration is harmful. When the alignment is multi-religious in nature, it is per definition for the welfare of more than one particular group, more than one particular race, more than one particular gender, more than. But that's not what we are seeing and the answer to some of the questions that have been raised before. Again, it's not about religion being good and politics being good or both being bad. It's about how can this administration that we have here, thankfully, how can this administration serve the interests of all, including races, ethnicities, genders, you name it? Well, guess what, not by working with only one religious group or community. Not by working with only one religious organization, or institution, but by working with all of them. Now, having said that, that is the hardest thing to do. The hardest thing to do. You can work with mono interests, you can work with clearly identified paradigms of us and them, it's easy. It's easy to work at even just within the Catholic community sometimes, it's easy. Not really, but just for the sake of argument. My point here is this, political administrations utilize specific religions. And in so doing, either advertently or inadvertently pit them against one another. Learn from the lessons of colonial history. They are plenty, and they are still very pertinent today. Colonialism was about (inaudible) "White Man's Burden." Remember, what was "White Man's Burden?" To bring faith to all people in the dark lens? No, "White Man's Burden" was to bring a certain interpretation of a certain faith to all the so-called "other." That was the problem. And in so doing, it positioned, the different faiths, the different cultural identities, the different ethnicities, and the different races, that positioned them as antagonistic. It was those with us and those against us. That happens when you align with one faith tradition, no matter how beautiful that faith tradition is. No matter how inclusive that faith is. It's still one faith tradition. It's still one faith tradition. And if you look at the variety of work that's been done on religion and development, over time, you will find that many nations, many governments today are indeed supporting religious organizations to do development work globally. But guess what? Each administration is supporting its own religious affiliate to do that work globally. It's not supporting multi religious development. It's not supporting multi religious collaboration. It's supporting specific religions to do their good work in specific parts of the world. That is the wrong formula. And as long as that's the formula, don't tell me good politics and democracy is going to sort that.   SINGH: Thank you. And Dr. Juergensmeyer, would you like to weigh in here?   JUERGENSMEYER: I'm just thinking of, you know, the larger issue about what we can do in our own neighborhood, in our own backyard? What if each church or synagogue or gurdwara adopted another congregation? Like Satpal Singh was saying, who asked the question initially, let me go out on a limb and guess that he's a part of a gurdwara community of Sikhs. What if they adopted a synagogue in their town or another church, and formed a kind of sister relationship between them and the two communities began to meet each other and hang out with each other and to learn from each other? Basically, it's hard to hate people that you don't know. It's hard to hate people you know, it's hard to hate people that you met with and you've learned their lives and you've broken bread with and all of these other things. So maybe it starts just with this kind of human interaction.   SINGH: Thank you. Thank you. The next written question comes from Whit Bodman. This is for you Dr. Johnson. Andrew Whitehead in his work on Christian nationalism found that among Blacks, 31% identified themselves as moderate Christian nationalists, the largest cohort in his four categories. Obviously, they are not white supremacists. This suggests that there are different kinds of Christian nationalism. Do you see this Christian nationalism as problematic, as dangerous as acceptable? And perhaps an acceptable part of the diverse fabric of America?   JOHNSON: And thanks so much for the question. I think it's a really important one and glad to answer. The quick answer is that it's problematic because this is religious nationalism. Whether these are white Christians, or Black Christians, or Latinx Christians, and they're important examples of how harmful this is. So one of the things that we we've not talked so much about are the African religions that have suffered persecution, Candomblé in Brazil, for example, which the adherents of Candomblé are particularly Black, but there is a new wave of charismatic Christianity that has targeted Candomblé as a diabolical religion. And many of these people are, of the Christians who were targeting Candomblé, are Black Christians, who see the presence of an African-derived religion as a form of Satanism, and the influence of the devil that needs to be eradicated. Or in Nigeria, which is a Black country, Yoruba, an indigenous African religion, has suffered targeted persecution and desecration by at the hands of Black Christians who believe that Nigeria should be a Christian nation. And there's also contention with Muslims as well who are fighting over the identity of Nigeria, but who particularly have targeted Yoruba as a as a diabolical religion. And in the United States, you're pointing to the statistic of black Christians who identified nationals we see this, for example, and the very harmful and unfortunate targeting in Christian nationalism, in the U.S. on trans youths, for example, transgender youths, so targeting these young people, as transgender has become a center stage platform for expounding a Christian nationalist agenda that wants to employ religious doctrine of a particular nature. So there is no one Christian doctrine on sexuality or anything else or gender on anything else, Christians disagree, but this movement asserts that it is the Christian truth that is anti-trans, and that's multiracial. You can find Black Christians who are a part of that. So the result would be that as we just as we were saying the fight over right now that trans youth would not be able to get medical services that they need at the discretion or judgment of medical experts, it would be based on anti-trans religious bias. And so those are just examples of the very harmful effects of the religious nationalism. So it doesn't matter what the racial population is. It is about the outcomes and the strategies and whether or not they're harmful. So those are just examples.   SINGH: Thank you, Dr. Johnson. The next written question comes from Katherine Marshall. She says what would be your counsel to the U.S. Biden administration? As some practical policy steps in the area of religion, symbolic actions, more pragmatic things removed from the table? What would you say?   KARAM: I actually already answered, Professor Marshall, who's my mentor, by the way, and someone I have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for, it's really not rocket science. It is about working deliberately with all religious communities at all times to serve everybody. It is not about giving the bulk of the resources available to any one religious organization or one religious community, no matter how dynamic and fantastic its range of services around the world is. It is about quintessentially essentially having the basic religious literacy to understand that working deliberately, determinately, and systematically with all religious groups and communities and organizations, that that is the way to make a difference to serve everybody. Now that skill by the way of working with everybody is not born overnight. And it's certainly not going to be born overnight in any particular U.S. administration or any particular political administration. That's why there are multi religious organizations that have existed since 1850 that deal with this work. But are they on the horizon? Are they anywhere on the horizon, USAID just had a beautiful, remarkable event trying to look at impact of religious collaboration just last year. Noteworthy is who was not invited to that space, in spite of having tremendous experience and resilience and experience over decades. I'm sorry, political administrations, no matter who they are, are not particularly known to be inclusive in their outreach and in the skills of understanding what it is like to work multi religiously, all it takes is identifying who the multi religious actors are, where there is a track record of multi religious advocacy and service delivery, both not just one and working with those organizations to support them. I would like to see the Biden administration recognize Religions for Peace, recognize the Parliament of World Religions, recognize United Religions Initiative. So far, it has not. And I wonder why they're all based here.   JUERGENSMEYER: Yeah, I think that I agree with Dr. Karam, that would be a good approach. But I think there's also something really much more fundamental, and that is returned to America stand as a leader for human rights around the world, in all areas. Because I think that taking a very strong policy on human rights and joining that with our political and in particular, our weapons sales and other aspects of America's interaction with other countries, that human rights would become an important factor. And the treatment of religious communities, minority communities, of course, would be a very strong element of that not the only element. I mean, the treatment of gays and transgenders, and other disenfranchised ethnic communities will also be a part of the human rights agenda, whether there is a kind of autocracy that deprives of basic freedom, all those are part of the human rights agenda. But certainly that would then encompass the treatment of minority religious communities. I think that's so important. And this administration, I think, to its credit, has begun to make statements in exactly this direction. And I hope that this will continue. And that, once again, America will be seen as a leading light for human rights around the world and willing to put its money where its mouth is. Willing to stand behind these positions with its support, whether it's political or monetary, or military or whatever. We don't engage with countries that deprive people of their human rights. That is a stand I think would make a huge difference, for not only for minority religious communities, but for those who are disenfranchised from human rights around the world.   SINGH: Thank you. And over to you, Dr. Johnson. Do you have anything you'd like to add here?   JOHNSON: Yeah, I think that there certainly needs to be much more deliberate commitment to engaging with the variety of liberation struggles and the fight for justice happening globally. I would differ somewhat from some of the other panelists over human rights. The United States is overthrown multiple democracies around the world, including (inaudible), we to this day operate black sites where we torture people. We incarcerate a greater percentage of our population than any other country on Earth and we are investing even more heavily in repressive strategies. We have militarized our policing. The way it operates is actually very murderous for Black and brown communities. That's not the case for white communities. And so this is why I said earlier that, in the West, we have a discourse about judging countries based on human rights. But we don't actually judge countries based on the human rights for all peoples, we are doing that based on majority populations. We're not paying attention to how countries are treating minority populations. And we do that based on the history of Western colonialism. So I do think that we have to fight for human rights. But I think that if you make a list of the actual violations of human rights, and you make a list of the countries that are violating those human rights, I don't know--the United States would not be on the list of countries that is not severely violating human rights. Okay. We wouldn't be and I don't know what country would be on that list. We'd need a different kind of calculus. And so I don't think that means that we shouldn't fight for human rights, we do. But you can look at our policy with regard to Saudi Arabia, or Israel, or European states, and see that it's a contradiction. You know, we pick and choose. We pick our partners, and we agree with them whenever they do things that are in violation, often that we're funding, or when we do things that ourselves in violation of human rights. So we do need to fight for human rights. We do need standards around it, that I agree with. But the binary list that we have right now is really based on colonialism, race, and it does not take seriously the way minorities are treated by these nation states. So I think that for the Biden administration certainly have a very different approach, I think that we could start with radically changing our securitization practices. When I say radically, I mean that we start from the ground up and recognize that we have spent billions of dollars, and we have spent, we have built lots of infrastructure, to unfairly target Muslims as a threat to the United States. We've done that within the United States, and we've done that outside of the United States. We maintain a great relationship with India, even though they're violating the rights of Muslims. We maintain a great religious relationship with Israel. We won't even call for them to stop an air raid against civilian Palestinians right now--we won't do it, not publicly. You know, Biden wants to get on the phone and have a private conversation. But if there were a different population of people who were on the receiving end of those bombs, or if a different country were doing it, it would be different, right? So I think that we have to have a much more honest and inclusive approach to this. I think we need to support everyone's human rights; it should not matter who they are, it shouldn't matter what their race is, it shouldn't matter what their religion is, it should not matter where they live, we have to support everyone's human rights.   KARAM: And it might begin—forgive me, forgive me—it might begin with a little bit of humility, about the fact that human rights in this country still have a long way to go. We cannot at any moment in time claim to go and serve and judge anyone else out there, when our own pain exceeds our boundaries and spills over everywhere. In this country, there are human rights violations of the most egregious degree, let's name it, please. And a little bit of humility about that might have been what would have salvaged the previous Democratic administration because it wasn't a very humble one either. I think just that humility to understand that human rights begins right here. And to be examples and paragons of virtue right here before we decide to serve others will help us build the bridges we need to build for human rights with others. But where can I extend the hand when it is cut off? And how dare I think that I can extend the hand and understand the other way in my in my own home, in my own territory, in my own neighbor, I will see a sign that tells me that hatred is okay?   JUERGENSMEYER: Human rights begins at home.   KARAM: Exactly.   SINGH: Thank you. Thank you all, I think this is a very powerful note to end on. Dr. Johnson, Dr. Juergensmeyer, Dr. Karam, thank you for joining us in this discussion and sharing your insights and your wisdom with us.
  • Public Health Threats and Pandemics
    2021 Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop
    CFR's annual Religion and Foreign Policy Workshop brings together high-level congregational and lay leaders, scholars of religion, and representatives of faith-based organizations from across the country for conversations on pressing global concerns with policymakers, CFR fellows, and other experts.  The full agenda is available here.
  • Religion
    The Rise of Christian Nationalism
    Andrew L. Whitehead, associate professor of sociology at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and co-author of Taking Back America for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, discusses the proliferation of Christian nationalism and its influence on American politics. Learn more about CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Program. FASKIANOS: Thank you, Julissa. Good afternoon to everyone. Welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations Religion and Foreign Policy webinar series. I'm Irina Faskianos, vice president for the National Program and Outreach at CFR. As a reminder, today's webinar is on the record, and the audio, video, and transcript will be available on our website,, and on our iTunes podcast channel, Religion and Foreign Policy. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We're delighted to have professor Andrew Whitehead with us today to talk about the rise of Christian nationalism. We've shared his bio with you but just to give you a few highlights: Professor Whitehead is an associate professor of sociology and director of the Association of Religion Data Archives at the Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis. His research focuses on how religion both shapes and is shaped by contemporary American culture. He's the coauthor of Taking America Back for God: Christian Nationalism in the United States, as well as over three dozen peer-reviewed journal articles. In 2019, Professor Whitehead's article "Make America Christian Again: Christian Nationalism and Voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election" won the Distinguished Article Award for both the Association for the Sociology of Religion and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. He's also currently associate editor for Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review and was elected to the board of directors of the Religion Research Association. So Andrew, thanks very much for being with us today. I thought you could set the table by talking about how you define the term Christian nationalism, and I know you also want to share some slides with us to illustrate your thesis.   WHITEHEAD: Yes, thank you so much for the warm introduction and for inviting me today. I'm excited to be part of this discussion and share a little bit about what we've been studying with Christian nationalism. And so I will share my screen here. And I, too, want to highlight my coauthor, Sam Perry. This was a true collaboration and much of our work  we do together. And so, yes, when we talk about Christian nationalism, and especially in the events of the last month with the Capitol insurrection, seeing so many Christian symbols like "Jesus Saves 2020" or praying around a cross or a flag, "Jesus is My Savior: Trump is My President," and then to when the insurrectionists breached the Capitol and were on the Senate floor praying. And if anybody has spent time in an evangelical congregation in the U.S., that prayer sounded familiar. And so we see religion suffusing a lot of what we saw at the insurrection. And so Christian nationalism we wouldn't say is the only explanation to what happened, but we do think it is a key explanation, is a key part of what we saw take place at the Capitol. And so in our book Taking America Back for God and also in the number of peer-reviewed articles that we have and published on Christian nationalism, we define Christian nationalism as a cultural framework. So it's a collection of myths and traditions, symbols, narratives, and value systems that idealize and advocate for a fusion between Christianity, and you can place an asterisk by Christianity, with American civic life. So the reason we placed an asterisk there is—I'll show a bit today and as we talked about in our book—is that it includes assumptions of nativism, white supremacy, patriarchy, authoritarianism, militarism, and it sanctifies and justifies violence in the service of what they deem the greater good or even God's plan.   So Christianity in this definition really refers to a certain population, people like us, which tends to be white, native born, culturally Christian Americans. And so it's really more of a cultural package overall. Now, when we talk about Christian nationalism, how do we measure it? Well, in our work, we survey large numbers of American adults, and we asked them six different questions. And these questions are really rather benign but asking for a level of agreement around their views towards the relationship between religion, or especially Christianity, and American civic life. And so we'll ask them questions like, "Should the federal government advocate Christian values? Should they allow prayer in public schools? Or is the success of the United States part of God's plan?" And so the degree to which our respondents agree or strongly agree or disagree or strongly disagree with the six questions, we assign them a point value and combine those together into a scale, and then we're able to see a distribution of responses and orientations towards Christian nationalism across the U.S. population. And as we can see here, it is very similar to a normal distribution where most Americans find themselves somewhere in the middle. We have people that strongly embrace it, they're at the upper end, or strongly reject it, they're at the bottom. But we won't say, and we don't say, that Christian nationalism is either an either/or proposition, that there's a spectrum of how strongly Americans embrace it and we find that that's really key. So rejecters, we see there at the left-hand part of the figure, are those that are below one standard deviation below the mean. And then resisters are the next group, accommodators, and ambassadors. And so when we combine these together into these four orientations towards Christian nationalism, we'll use these categories from here on, and we can see that rejecters and resisters, taken together, are about 48 percent of the population. So rejecters completely repudiate any notion of a close relationship between Christianity and American civil society. And they're about 22 percent of the population, as you can see. Resisters are slightly larger and they're uncomfortable with this idea of a Christian nation, but they are not wholly opposed. They lean towards opposition. Accommodators are actually our largest group, about 32 percent of the population, and they're a mirror image of resisters but lean towards accepting the Christian nation narrative and cultural framework. So their support is undeniable, but it isn't comprehensive. And finally, we have those on the very right of the screen. These are our ambassadors. These are Americans who are wholly supportive of Christian nationalism. They believe either that the U.S. was or still is a Christian nation and that we need to reestablish that connection in order for the United States to flourish.   Now, in the interest of time, I won't share the demographic differences between these groups, but they are fascinating, especially where they're similar. But we do find that these four groups are well represented across socio-demographic groups in the U.S., religious traditions, and even political party. And so it isn't as though one of these groups only fits within a certain socio-demographic group, but we see them represented all over. Now, one part of today, as you know, we were thinking about what we would study or look at, was this idea of the rise of Christian nationalism. And so the size of these groups, have they changed over time? Well, we actually find when we collected data in 2007 and then in 2017 and compared across the decade, that for the most part it's been relatively stable. Now, the bold numbers are those that, you could say, are a significant change from 2007 to 2017. So rejecters have grown by a couple percent. Resisters have also grown by about 4 percent. Accommodators are essentially the same size, they're not significantly different from '07 to 2017. And ambassadors have shrunk just slightly. And so we do see some shift overall over the course of the last decade but not large-scale shift. And so it will be interesting to continue to follow this as we go forward. But we wouldn't say that over the last decade there's been a dramatic increase overall, but it is relatively stable.   Now, as we look at Christian nationalism, define it, but then also start to think of, well, does it matter, these next bit of slides that I would like to share kind of set the table in a little way of why Christian nationalism matters in what ways. So when we talk about support for Donald Trump, as we saw in the insurrection in 2016 and even in 2020, Christian nationalism was not the only story but is a key part of explaining Americans' attitudes and support for Donald Trump. So when we look at 2016, we can see there on the left in the 2017 Baylor Religion Survey, that if someone was a rejecter, resister, accommodator, or ambassador, was key to understanding whether or not they voted for Donald Trump. And in 2020 the story stayed the same. Christian nationalism was a key predictor of whether Americans supported Donald Trump. We see that for the most part, it's a similar distribution and the same number of people were supporting him overall, with ambassadors being those that are most likely to support Donald Trump in both those years. Now, what's very interesting about this is it isn't just that Christian nationalism predicts support for Donald Trump, but then it does so even when we account for socio-demographic variables, political ideology and party, and also religious tradition.   And so in this next slide, we can see that across religious traditions, Christian nationalism is a key variable to explain whether they supported Donald Trump. So a couple things stand out. The white bars are for white, born-again Protestants. And again, this is data that we collected just after the 2020 election. You can see that whether somebody is rejecter, a resistor, an accommodator, or an ambassador, is key to explaining whether or not they voted for Donald Trump. Now, the dark blue bar are white liberal Protestants and you can see the same relationship. If somebody is rejector versus an ambassador, that tells us a lot about whether they voted for Trump, and the gray bar are white Catholics. And so for those groups there on the right around the ambassador bars, you can see that whether somebody is an evangelical Protestant, white Catholic, or white liberal Protestant, really, there's no difference between those groups. The fact that they're ambassadors, they're much more likely to support Donald Trump. And they're more similar to each other than to coreligionists, other Catholics, white liberal Protestants, or white evangelical Protestants, who reject Christian nationalism. So we can see that Christian nationalism cuts across religious tradition and is very key to explaining whether or not a religious American supported Donald Trump.   Now, another big social issue, obviously, that we're still living with is the COVID-19 pandemic. And we know that this was something that was quickly politicized with people drawing tribal lines. And we find, in a number of articles that we published just this year, that Christian nationalism is a key explanatory variable, again, for understanding how people are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. So really quickly, we can see that wearing a mask or avoiding touching your face when we gather data in May of 2020 during the one of the first peaks of the COVID pandemic, we can see that ambassadors, especially the accommodators, were more likely to say that they never took these precautions. Whereas resisters, but especially rejecters of Christian nationalism, were more likely to say that they were taking precautions. When we asked Americans about governmental restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether the government should try to protect the economy, or protect liberty, or if it should protect the vulnerable, we see that, again, our Christian nationalism scale is a strong predictor of where Americans believe the government should be focusing. Where the more that they embrace Christian nationalism, the more likely they are to say that we should protect the economy and protect liberty, and they're much less likely to say that we should protect the vulnerable. So you can see those lines moving in dramatically different directions.   Now, beyond COVID-19, another big social issue that we've been struggling and working with in the United States, especially over the summer, was racial injustice and protests. So we asked a number of questions, but one that I'll share with us today, is when we charted the percent of whites and Blacks who agree that reports of police brutality against Black Americans are exaggerated by the media, we can see that for white Americans, who more strongly embrace Christian nationalism, they're much more likely to believe that these reports of police brutality are exaggerated. So they're less likely to say that injustice towards Black Americans is a real thing. But for Black Americans, as they embrace Christian nationalism more strongly, we can see relatively no change in those blue bars. Christian nationalism doesn't work the same for Black Americans as it does among white Americans. But we can see that for white Americans, this idea of a Christian nation is wrapped up in their views towards racial inequality, especially police brutality towards Black Americans. Now, when we talk about Christianity in the U.S. and its influence on social policy or the society at large, we need to understand and clarify that for many Americans, Christianity means something more than perhaps just orthodox religious beliefs. But that, again, it comes with this cultural package, this cultural framework. of Christian nationalism. And we need to know and recognize that for many Americans, especially white Christian supporters of Trump or Trumpism, they're primarily motivated by fear of loss of privilege within this culture in the social sphere. And Christian nationalism is something as a cultural framework that speaks to that and works in such a way that really pushes them towards wanting to and desiring to keep themselves at the center of politics and in this culture. And with that, I will stop sharing. Hopefully, that worked. And there and look forward to the discussion.   FASKIANOS: Thank you, Andrew. That was really fascinating data. And let's turn now to all of you to share questions and comments with us. So as you all know, just click the "raise hand" at the bottom of your screen. And you can also type your question in the Q&A chat if you prefer to do that. And I'll call on you, and if I call on you, please announce your name and affiliation to give us context for who you are. Oh, my goodness, we have many questions. Many, many questions. So I'm going to start with Reverend Peg Chamberlin. And Peg, if you can unmute yourself?   CHEMBERLIN: Thank you. I'm Peg Chamberlin, former director of Minnesota Council of Churches, now retired and head consultant in Justice Connection. Andrew, I wonder if you had asked the question, "Do you self-identify as a white nationalist, as a Christian nationalist?" what kind of response you would have gotten? Thank you.   WHITEHEAD: Yes, that's a wonderful question. Thank you for that. You know, we do not ask respondents to self-identify as either white nationalists or self-identify as Christian nationalists. I would assume that for many Americans, this idea of "are you a Christian nationalist?" wouldn't be something that's really on their radar. I'm sure that the self-identification there'd be very few that would know what that is or even want to self-identify in that way. And so for us, what we wanted to try and do was really measure the, you know, cultural framework as a whole and in some of those aspects that make up that cultural framework, that, you know, if I asked somebody, "Are you a Christian nationalist?" they might say no, but if I asked them our six questions, they might strongly agree with each one. And when we performed interviews for our book, that's what we found over and over. I don't think Christian nationalism is something that they would identify with as Christian nationalists. But when we asked them the measures that make up that scale, they, by and large, you know, those that strongly agree with it will do that. And so that's how we measured it, but wonderful question.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go next to Bruce Knotts, who raised his hand and typed his question. So Bruce, why don't you unmute yourself and just ask it yourself.   KNOTTS: Hello, my name is Bruce Knotts and I direct the Unitarian Universalist Association Office of the United Nations. We hosted an event with Robert Jones and his book, White Too Long, which comes to some similar conclusions. And I'm wondering if you're familiar with that book, if you could compare and contrast your work with Robert Jones's work?   WHITEHEAD: Yes, I am familiar with that book. I bought it right when it came out and read it. And Robert Jones, yes, it was a wonderful book and really, yes, really well done and I'm a big fan of him and his work. And so I think there are a lot of very similar overlaps. I think we're looking at the same, in many ways, the same cultural framework and talking about it perhaps in slightly different ways and using some different methodological strategies. So he has a chapter in that book where he really draws on the Public Religion Research Institute or PRRI data. And so I think our book in that sense, you know, is in the spirit of that chapter where we're serving large numbers of the American population and trying to operationalize Christian nationalism and understand it. But what we find over and over that I think is very similar to his book and his work, is that Christian nationalism is, to a very large degree, racialized within the U.S. context. So when we're talking about Christian nationalism and as Americans are thinking about, again, this idea of Christianity in the public sphere, it's in many ways raced, where for white Americans it means something like, you know, this us, those are white Americans, this culture was made for us. And so in that sense, saying that we're a Christian nation and we need to then defend those Christian values has historically and over time been a way for them to, in some ways, cloak, you know, some of the racialized beliefs in religious symbolism and talk about race without talking about race in that sense. And, Robert Jones's book I would recommend, if you haven't read it, to buy it and read it. I think he's really drawing that out historically but then also with social scientific data and his personal autobiography, which was really provocative and a great, great work. So hopefully that kind of helps, but we have a chapter on boundaries and racial boundaries are a key part of Christian nationalism.   FASKIANOS: So I'm going to group two questions from Kathryn Poethig at California State University, Monterey Bay, who wanted to know what was the geographic and age range of your survey. And then Laura Alexander, who's at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, who wrote, "Has your work given any insight into why someone who doesn't identify as Christian would nevertheless support Christian nationalism even being an ambassador for that ideology?"   WHITEHEAD: Yes, definitely. So the first one, our surveys we primarily draw on two within our book. And then since then there's a number of other surveys that we use in our peer-reviewed research articles. But for our book, we use two [inaudible] of the Baylor Religion Survey, which is a national random sample of American adults. And so the geographic scope covers the U.S. and age ranges from anywhere from eighteen to, I don't know the exact upper bound or who is the oldest in the survey, but basically all American adults eighteen and up. And then the second part of the question about people who are not affiliated or perhaps not religious also, perhaps, drawing into this cultural framework, we do find evidence of this where we have Americans. And granted, it's not a large number of unaffiliated or non-religious Americans who are ambassadors of Christian nationalism, so it is small. The majority of ambassadors are pretty religious or largely religious Americans. But what we find is those that are unaffiliated that still identify with this cultural framework, they can take on a number of different, kind of, I guess, flavors, but one is this idea of what we see in some parts of Europe where this idea of, kind of, Western civilization, who we are as a people, and again, that can be racialized in some ways. But that Christianity, again, is a stand-in for this culture and this people that, kind of, started this country. And so for them, when they say that we should advocate Christian values, really they're talking about, again, this cultural framework of basically white, native-born, politically, maybe even religiously conservative Americans. And so it doesn't require them to be personally pious in that way. And so, you know, when we look at the years of Trump when he was running for the presidency, and when he was president, we see him as kind of the perfect test of Christian nationalism and the strength of that cultural framework, because he makes really no attempt to be personally religious or pious. Whereas other Republican presidents have utilized the language and rhetoric of Christian nationalism, but then also tried to say that, "Yes, I am personally religious." So one example is George Bush. When he was running for president, first saying that Jesus was his favorite philosopher in a debate, right? So he's talking about his personal faith. Whereas Trump really didn't care to do that. But over and over, Trump would say, "We need to defend Christianity. They're coming after you. We need to defend your culture and this culture. It's so key to being an American is being Christian in this great Christian nation." And so for him and for other Americans who are nonreligious, there are still aspects of Christian nationalism that they find useful and that they buy into and they can be ambassadors for that in that sense. So, I think, that's one way that these things overlap where the majority of ambassadors are religious, but there are Americans who are not religious personally but are still ambassadors of Christian nationalism.   FASKIANOS: So there are a few questions in the chat about ambassadors, so I'm just going to group them and if you can work your way through them: "Ambassadors are 20 percent of the general population, more so than the majority of the subpopulation. Can you talk about the early percent who voted for the Trump side who are the non-Christians who are ambassadors of Christian nationalism? And finally, can you clarify how people of other faiths can be Christian nationalist ambassadors?"   WHITEHEAD: Yes, so I'm not sure if I follow the first question exactly what they're asking for.   FASKIANOS: Yes, I just read it directly. I think he saw in your survey that ambassadors are 20 percent of the general population and that's more than a majority of a subpopulation.   WHITEHEAD: Yes. So it's that last part that I'm not clear on. So I'll try. So 20 percent of the U.S. population, and we find this across a number of different national surveys, not just in one, which makes us, you know, pretty confident in those point estimates. But I guess if we look at different subpopulations—so let's look at religious traditions. So if we're looking at evangelical Protestants, a large number of evangelical Protestants right around 40 percent are ambassadors. So depending on the subpopulation, you can see the number of those people rise and fall depending on whether they embrace Christian nationalism really strongly. But again, with mainline Protestants or Catholics, that number is still higher than the national average, so over 20 percent. And so, across some subpopulations you see those changes. And we demonstrate some of those characteristics throughout one of the chapters in our book and so, I guess, I would turn there, too, just in case I didn't answer the question perfectly this time. And then what was the next one, Irina, I'm sorry?   FASKIANOS: No, that's okay. I threw a lot at you. So the next one was the differentiation between the percentage who voted for Trump that were non-Christians who were ambassadors of Christian nationalism. So in 2016 versus 2020.   WHITEHEAD: Okay, so what it says there?   FASKIANOS: Yes.   WHITEHEAD: Yes. So let's see, we find there were similar numbers. So again, the number of ambassadors who are unaffiliated, if you're looking at the whole population, is rather small. But what we find in 2016 and 2020 that that small number of people overwhelmingly voted for Trump even though they were nonreligious. If they were ambassadors the likelihood they voted for Trump was really high. I forget right now, I'd have to open up the PowerPoint again, but in 2020, I think, it was 70–80 percent of unaffiliated or secular Americans who are ambassadors that voted for Trump. And we find that was true in 2016 as well, and so that was a consistent finding over those two election cycles.   FASKIANOS: Great, and how can people of other faiths be Christian nationalist ambassadors?   WHITEHEAD: Yes, so this is interesting question. And one part—I'm not trying to just punt on the question—but we are limited somewhat by the data at our disposal. So with these national surveys, because other non-Christian faiths are a small slice of the American public, we tend to not pick up as many, right? So they're small in our surveys as well. And so I hate to speak too strongly or beyond the data with a small sample size that we have. But when we pull all them together, we do find similar things that work. Now, with that, what we also have to keep in mind is that there are very different reasons why different non-Christian groups might embrace Christian nationalism. So one group that we find, and this is drawing on data that others have collected out west, but among Latter-day Saints, we do see that they will strongly embrace Christian nationalism, that that is a cultural framework that is definitely present within the Latter-day Saints community. And so for them, I think it does operate very similarly to what we might find in other conservative Christian groups overall. Now, when we look at other religious groups, I think then we would have to turn more towards qualitative interviews or research techniques where for us in our large samples, we just have so few of those people that I hesitate to draw any strong conclusions or make any strong claims over why somebody who might be a non-Christian faith would also embrace Christian nationalism as a whole.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. Let's go next to Razi Hashmi. And Razi, can you unmute yourself?   HASHMI: Sure. Can you hear me okay?   FASKIANOS: We can.   HASHMI: Hi there. Thank you, Andrew. Again, my name is Razi Hashmi. I work at the State Department and I'm a term member with the Council on Foreign Relations. I am also with the Office of International Religious Freedom covering South Asia. My question is actually not related to my work, but more of interfaith and interfaith dialogue. So what is the perception that you've, kind of, ascertained from your conversations, whether through your actual survey or just maybe informal conversations with folks on interfaith and intrafaith dialogue? And then how has the broader Christian community or Christian nationalists come to terms with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia that has been pervasive especially amongst Christian nationalist figures, preachers, and pastors? Thank you.   WHITEHEAD: Yes, thank you for the wonderful question. And so I think the first and second part to your question are, at least in my mind, strongly interrelated. So we're talking about interfaith and interfaith dialogue. I think among Americans that embrace Christian nationalism there isn't much and I don't think they really have any interest in doing that to really find areas of compromise or working together. They tend to because Christian nationalism is about creating more of a tribal identity of an "us" versus a "them," and again, at least culturally, Christianity is a key part of that. And so any types of dialogue, I think, run into issues because as we find with Christian nationalism, it really is predicated on power. And they see it as a zero-sum game where for us to have power and be at the center of the culture, we have to ensure that others don't have access to that. And so in many ways, it's anti-democratic, it really has no interest in compromise, because, again, they're locating their desired outcomes in the will of the Christian God. And so they really aren't interested in any sort of give and take. Now, again, Christian nationalism is a spectrum and so Americans that are accommodators might be more open to that. But when we talk to them about, even accommodators or ambassadors, if we talked to them about one example, like praying before a football game, right, they'll say, "Well, of course, the Christian prayers should be there." And they become much more hesitant with any other religious group being a part of that ritual. And so that's one way that it gets lived out, I think, in their minds, as we think of how the, I guess, in one way the rubber meets the road.   Now when we talk about anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, what we find in our book, but then other scholars in the social sciences that are working alongside us on Christian nationalism, we find over and over that, just like you said, there are really high degrees of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia where accommodators, and especially ambassadors, when we talk about or ask about fear or threat towards Muslims, they're much more likely to not only fear them, but feel as though they're physically threatened by Muslims, that there's going to be a physical attack, are much more likely to fear that. And then when we ask about Jews and Jewish Americans, we find that Americans that embrace Christian nationalism are even more likely to fear physical attack or believe that that Jews don't share the same morals and values that they do as  embracing Christian nationalism, which, again, is very interesting when we think about that in terms of the support for Israel that they'll often talk about the nation state. When we talk about actual people, again, that is part and parcel with this. And so, as I mentioned in my short presentation how Christian nationalism is interested in drawing boundaries around who is a true American, what it means to be a true American, those are racialized but then, too, those boundaries are religious as well. So in thinking about any non-Christian group or groups of people they believe are non-Christian, they draw those boundaries that exclude them from, you know, equal participation in civil society and in the culture.   FASKIANOS: Thank you, I'm going to ask Kim Vrudny's question: "What lessons might we derive from Nazi Germany and South Africa under the Christian nationalists? What can be done to interrupt the trajectory toward which all this might be heading?" And Kim is with the University of St. Thomas—Minnesota.   WHITEHEAD: Yes, that's a really good question. And so I would want to say at the outset that I'm not an expert in Nazi Germany or South Africa. And so while I know a lot about Christian nationalism in the U.S., and being able to draw consistent comparisons to those, I hesitate to do that. I think as we're thinking about Christian nationalism in the U.S., I think what's key to understand and to realize is that, perhaps in those other countries, that what seemed to be somewhat benign beliefs like the U.S. as a Christian nation or the federal government should advocate Christian values, realizing and recognizing that strongly adhering to those have real repercussions towards how people view immigrants, or people of their religious faiths, or racial minorities, or gender and sexuality minorities. I think those are key because from what limited I know about, let's say, Nazi Germany or South Africa, religion was again a part of a larger project to draw lines around who we are and what we should all be about. And so as desires for certain groups get legitimated in the sacred, like Christian nationalism saying, "This is God's desire for this country," it really creates a situation where, again, compromise or allowing others to share in power and finding a common path forward become almost impossible. And so to the degree to which that draws similarities to other, you know, regimes and other countries, I think that is a key part of what we see here in the U.S. and that we need to be aware of and not take it lightly were even trying to draw lines around "this is who we are and this is what we've always been about" can be difficult and can have, again, real-world implications to how they imagine what America should be or who a true American is.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go next to Charles Randall Paul, who typed a question and also raised his hand. So why don't you ask it yourself. If you can unmute yourself and identify yourself.   PAUL: Hi, I'm the president of the Foundation for Religious Diplomacy and we work on building trust between religious rivals who remain rivals. The question I ask is related to your research, I don't know if you can help us with it or not, but what is the endgame among most Christian nationalists? Are they believing that the Second Coming will be soon and that the bad guys will all get wiped out and we need to hold firm till then? Or are they proselytizers? Do they believe they can convert people to Christ and save the world that way? In other words are they hunkered down or are they reaching out? Is there a tension between them? What would they say is the endgame for Christian nationalism?   WHITEHEAD: Yes, that is a great question. And I think in some ways we see that when we talk to Americans that embrace Christian nationalism, it becomes, and this maybe unsurprising, becomes a little more muddled where I think even in our own minds it's a little bit of both, where, in some ways, this is highlighting the pre- and postmillennialist kind of histories and trajectories within Christian nationalism where for some that were really strongly advocating this as a Christian nation and should become even more of a Christian nation, they were postmillennial, they were thinking that this was a part of bringing around the Second Coming of Christ, converting people, or bringing the U.S. under the will of Christians and Christianity. But we see another strong strand within Christian nationalism and Americans that embrace it that is premillennial, where they feel as though the culture and everything is essentially heading to hell in a handbasket and we need to maintain our faithfulness, but at that point of time, as we're faithful, we'll be stashed away. We do find among Americans, they tend to espouse more premillennialists views, those that strongly embrace Christian nationalism. So this idea of "We need to be faithful. We need to hunker down, but, you know, Christ's Second Coming will come." But I think within that and you can see this—one example is Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Dallas. He had a book that he published a little while back, Twilight's Last Gleaming, where he essentially makes this case where the U.S. is headed away from what we always should have been. But we still need to maintain our faithfulness, we still need to fight for the culture, we need to be a part of it. But we need to ultimately understand that it's probably a losing battle, and we just need to be faithful within it. And so in that sense, it is a little of both. And so I think the endgame for many Americans is somewhat muddled where they want to be faithful to what they see is the dictates of the Christian faith but also try to influence and stave off the U.S. moving in this direction for as long as possible because for them the fear is that's when God will turn His back on the U.S. and then it will be really a difficult country to live in and one that nobody wants to be in. So in that sense, there's a lot going on and interwoven, but I think that is a lot of how many Americans, at least, tend to see those relationships   FASKIANOS: Okay. I might have frozen. I've been having trouble with my internet connection. So I'm going to go next to Shaik Ubaid who has his hand raised in the queue? And if you can unmute yourself.     UBAID: Thank you so much for taking my question. You know that the numbers are, even though I have been involved in, you know, in human rights work and monitoring the rise of extremism, the numbers are almost intimidating. But the good thing is they are declining. I think one of the reasons is that, except for the new analogy like white supremacist, the other group such as the evangelicals have been accorded recognition and they will not, you know, look down upon. So how we describe them is very important so that people are aware. For example, Christian nationalist. Christian is a good term; nationalist is also maybe a good term because Gandhi was a Hindu nationalist but he is completely different than the Hindu supremacist who killed him and are now ruling India. And we support the same things that we are seeing here in America. So calling them as ambassadors, whereas the other word for people who are resisting them is rejecters, which is a negative term, so I'm talking about the semantics of this bringing this to attention. And my question is, supporters from other groups, especially among the immigrants, isn't the common theme, Islamophobia, for example, the Hindu supremacist, or the settlers from Israel, or the Burmese Buddhists involved in the genocide, the extremists among them, they all support Trump even though in their own countries they are persecuting Christians. So that's a fascinating point that I have been noticing for a long time. So did you come across this pack in your interviews of people who belong to other faiths and who are supporting Christian nationalists?   WHITEHEAD: Yes, it's a great question. I think one of the things that we wish we could have done was spend more time among different racial ethnic groups interviewing a broader cross-section of people within those different groups to see how Christian nationalism functions. I think that's one area in our research that we're starting to unpack now in more peer-reviewed outlets that we hope to other social scientists will really push into because we do find evidence that Christian nationalism will operate similarly among different racial ethnic groups or even immigrants, as you point out, in white Americans. And then on other issues, they work completely in opposite directions. Christian nationalism doesn't operate the same way for white Americans as racial ethnic minorities or immigrant groups. So I think being able to really be able to draw out those differences is a key aspect that we're exploring now and that we don't do much in the book. But yes, I think when we look at support for Trump, there were immigrant communities, that was one of the surprising parts, was among different, even within Hispanic communities, even within that grouping, very different trajectories for who would support Trump and then who didn't and the reasons why, which I think will be of importance going forward and more work is starting to really look into that.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. So I'm going to go next to Reverend Jonathan Barton, who is a retired general minister of the Virginia Council of Churches. He asks, "Is there a relationship between Christian Zionism and Christian nationalism?"   WHITEHEAD: Yes, I think there is a relationship, I think historically, so there are a number of books that are helpful with this. Julie Ingersoll, she's looking at Christian reconstructionism and this idea of dominionism and Christian nationalism. And then when we're thinking about Zionism, I think there are relationships overall. We see some of those play out. Now, in our book, again, of a broad cross-section of American society, for many Americans this idea of Christian Zionism there are relatively few of them and so it doesn't get drawn out in those large surveys. But there is a common refrain, like pastor Robert Jeffress at First Baptist, kind of a noted Christian nationalist pastor, who also is strongly supportive of Israel and that's a common refrain among white evangelical Protestants but to especially Christian nationalists, that having America be on the right side as they see it, of Israel or being alongside Israel, is key to keeping America on God's good side. And so those definitely overlap. Now among kind of rank-and-file Americans how strongly those things are coupled could be very different, but for the most part you do see those connections.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go next to Anuttama Dasa who says, "You describe the problem is a sense of loss and central to American culture. My question is what is the way out? The country is more diverse racially, religiously, culturally, and that will continue. How will this group become pacified and feel their interests and identity are not under attack, especially in this age of divisive media that further emboldens their fears and views?"   WHITEHEAD: Yes, I think that last part is the key part, that there's so many—it's such a multifaceted issue where the media landscape and the diversification of information sources that they can go to and in many ways people are self-selecting into those, that are feeding into a fear narrative, I think trying to change or  shut those down is obviously a Herculean task. But beyond that, I don't know that for Americans that strongly embrace Christian nationalism, if there really is anything that's going to make them truly feel as though there is nothing to worry about because, again, their networks of people they're with and congregations they are a part of that, especially where they're getting their information, for the most part will continue to feed into that narrative. And so, if their networks, not like TV networks, but their interpersonal networks changed, that could be one thing. But I think right now, the key is understanding that Christian nationalism is predicated on power, and again, trying to maintain privileged access and control to power in the levers of power. And so it will respond to power. And so I think being aware of that and understanding that it may not be a person-to-person trying to turn people away that's going to ultimately help change things but that it's recognizing that only through protecting democracy and the sharing of power and compromise and ensuring that minority groups of all different types are protected, really is going to be the only way. And then hopefully as time goes on maybe making inroads culturally, but I guess I'm cynical of any plan, and not that you are suggesting that, but any plan that thinks there's going to be broad-scale changes in people's attitudes and that will then lead us forward, I think that is too rosy an outlook. These are cultural frameworks that are central to how they see themselves as an American. And so those that are interested in a society with fair and free elections and protecting minorities of all different types, I think, then it's just about ensuring that the levers of power are not just in the hands of those that want to just protect their tribal in-group, if that makes sense.   FASKIANOS: So, there's a question in the Q&A box that got three thumbs up, so I'm going to ask it because people want to know about this. From John Thatamanil, excuse my mispronunciation of your name, with the Union Theological Seminary. He is still thinking about your asterisk on the word Christian. "What, if any, are the doctrinal theological convictions of these Christians? Your remarks suggests there's very little actual Christian content." Is he understanding you correctly? And if so what work does the category Christian do? So boiled down, what's Christian about Christian nationalism?   WHITEHEAD: Yes, that's a great question. And I think one thing that we don't want to do is create a thing where Americans that embrace Christian nationalism, those that disagree with it can then be like, "Well, those aren't real Christians," right? We don't want to do that. It's kind of a no true Scotsman fallacy, where if they embrace Christian nationalism, then they were never a true Christian. We want to be clear that these are church-going, Bible-believing, Jesus is the Son of God they'll hold Orthodox Christian beliefs. But with that comes with all of these, again, cultural assumptions that are really rooted in our history as a nation, especially with, for example, race. So those come as a part of and are kind of added on to this understanding of some Orthodox Christian beliefs. And so, if we were to ask them, again, a list of what maybe many people would say are Orthodox Christian beliefs, they would assent to many of those. It isn't as though they don't believe those—they do. It's just they believe, too, as a part of living out their faith, this is what it means to be a faithful Christian is to vote one way with one party and law and order,  all these things that are coded and have been coded in our culture for different policy beliefs or to basically serve the interests of one group and keeping one group in power and that's been added on to it. And so, I think being aware of that is key and really being a part of, and we see some of this happening now, Christians within, let's say, white evangelical Protestantism, trying to really wrestle with how Christian nationalism can lead to outcomes that they believe are antithetical to the gospel and trying to understand why that is and why that's important. And so I think the work that we're trying to do is, is to really lay out clearly, Christian nationalism leads to these ends. Now, whether you think that is Christianity or not, we don't necessarily delve into as much. We leave that to theologians,  as you all are at union, to really be able to make that case. But I think what is clear is that Christian nationalism and adhering to this cultural package tends to make Americans draw much sharper boundaries around who is the “us” or who we are that are racialized and lead to fear of other groups that for some, as they look at the Gospels or Jesus' teachings, believe that they don't align with what Jesus taught. And so, I think, then that work we leave to others. But I think the evidence is clear that more of the kind of prosocial, loving your enemies, loving your neighbors, that type of thing, can look very different in many ways doesn't align with what, you know, some orthodox or historic Christian beliefs are.   FASKIANOS: Elias Mallon of Catholic Near East Welfare Association asks, "Racism and anti-Semitism share a great deal in common, yet I feel there's significant differences, which need to be taken into account. There seems to be something deeply American to anti-Black racism. How do you think the two are related yet different?"   WHITEHEAD: Yes, that is a big question and one that, again, I wouldn't say that I'm an expert on in really being able to distinguish similarities and differences at a deep level. I think, a part of that history that we see in one great book, the name is escaping me now, is Kelly Baker. She wrote a book on basically in the 1920s the Klan in the U.S. She actually had interview in the New York Times, I think, yesterday so you could go and find it with Elizabeth Dias. But she's writing, and we know that in the history with the KKK, there were distinct anti-Semitic and obviously anti-Black narratives that were a part of how they saw the world. And so the close relationships of those, I think, are clear. Now how exactly those are different or play out differently, I'm not an expert in that area so I wouldn't want to hazard a guess. But I think the fact that they are so closely related and for many are a part and parcel of what really Christian and white supremacy through the decades and through the centuries in the U.S. has been a part of that we need to attend to it and be aware of that, like at the Capitol insurrection, you're going to see the Confederate flag, you're going to see sweatshirts, I think, it was like a "Camp Auschwitz" or something like that. I mean, a very anti-Semitic—especially you're going to see all those things together. And this is something that, you know, at the extreme levels is, you know, they're drawing together.   FASKIANOS: I'm going to go to Tom Walsh, he has his hand raised. If you can unmute yourself.   WALSH: Thank you, Irina. And thank you, Professor Whitehead. Excellent discussion and great, great topic. I mean, there's so many thoughts going on in my head, but I guess one of the thoughts is, the previous person asked what is the Christian aspect of Christian nationalism. The other is nationalism itself is a kind of generic term. And it's not just an -ism in the sense of something that leans toward, let's say, fascism at one extreme but that it's commonplace. That somehow there's a sense in which every nation state needs some degree of nationalism, if we think of it as the solidarity of the citizens. And then you get faith people who probably all apply their faith background to that project in some way. So there's Christian nationalism, you can say the social gospel movement of Walter Rauschenbusch or Washington Gladden, was a kind of nationalism but of a different sort, for sure. So I guess it's a little bit that's, you know, kind of a typology of nationalisms from, you know, there was a major article in the Wall Street Journal on the weekend in that review section about Catholic social thought. Could Catholic social thought under the Biden administration kind of bring America together? So we're living in this post-secular environment where all the religions are trying to fill a gap or a vacuum that has been emptied out with perhaps an overreaching secularism. So these are just thoughts. So I really appreciate your presentation and maybe would ask you about that. Isn't this going to continue because we do need to find the foundation or basis for solidarity. We can say it's the Constitution. We have constitutional nationalism, but it's very rational and kind of unfeeling. And so people do want to bring their entire being into their life in the world and if they're Buddhist, or Muslim, or Christian, or Jew, there's aspects of that that fit in. And it's not all pathological, I guess is my point. Anyway, thanks, again. Great program and great presentation.   WHITEHEAD: Yes, thank you. I think, too some of what I hear in your thoughts is this distinction between civil religion and Christian nationalism and the fact that with civil religion it's kind of drawing on this shared heritage or idea that there are things that we come around as Americans that are important to us that might highlight Providence or God in some sense, but really tries to highlight where we're more similar than might be different. Whereas Christian nationalism tends to be much more tribal of “us” against “them,” rather than trying to draw us together. And two, I think, a part of what I hear there is, you know, a distinction between patriotism and nationalism, where patriotism is love of fellow country, men and women, whereas nationalism is trying to ensure that our nation is at the top at the expense of other nations. So I think those are key aspects and a part of as we try to understand civil society and how it operates that, yes, I think there are different strains but we might be able to label them somewhat differently, and they definitely have different outcomes and what that means for a pluralistic democratic society.   WALSH: Thank you.   FASKIANOS: Andrew, one last question from Jason Morton, who is at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom: "Did any of your questions have a foreign policy component? Did explore whether Christian nationalists are more isolationist? And is there any correlation between Christian nationalism and opinions about foreign aid?"   WHITEHEAD: Yes, that is a great question. I would say that for most of our book and our research thus far is looking at really domestic issues. We do ask about militarism,  it might be the "war on terror" or wars in different parts of the world. I think that touches a little bit on some of your concerns where Christian nationalists or Americans that embrace Christian nationalism tend to be much more militaristic, and again, trying to enforce, in some way, what they see as American ideals elsewhere and ensuring that we are dominant in that sense. And as far as foreign aid, I'd have to go back but recent data we've collected, too, asks about kind of fears of globalism or other economic systems. And in Christian nationalism, they're afraid of things that they view, again, as un-American. So capitalism is excellent. Anything else or any sort of interaction with the global community they tend to be much more afraid of. And so that's a really broad question, but I think that would probably if we asked a lot more follow-up questions we would draw out how those things would connect to some of those foreign policy issues.   FASKIANOS: Fantastic. Well, that should be the questions that you incorporate for your next survey that you do, so you can come back and report on it. And we actually have to have you back because we had over, I still have about thirty-five questions in the chat and hands up, and I apologize to all of you for not being able to get to you because we'd love to hear from each and every one of you, of course. But we're respectful of everybody's time and so we do need to end, but thank you, Andrew Whitehead, for your insights today and to all of you for your great questions and comments. We encourage you to follow up Andrew Whitehead's work by following him on twitter @ndrewwhitehead. We also encourage you to follow CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Program on Twitter @CFR_Religion as well as reach out to us. Send us an email with ideas for topics and speakers you would like us to cover in future webinars. You can email [email protected]. So again, thank you all for today's discussion. And Andrew, really thank you for your invaluable research. It really is insightful, especially in what we've seen this past month.   WHITEHEAD: Yes, thank you so much for having me. It was really wonderful.   FASKIANOS: Thank you.    
  • Terrorism and Counterterrorism
    ‘The Most Persistent and Lethal Threat’
    For years, security experts have warned that white nationalist and white supremacist extremism represent the most significant domestic terrorism threat to the United States. Now, in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, the country seems to be gaining clarity about the seriousness of the situation for the first time. How did we get here, and what can be done?
  • Religion
    Reconciliation in the United States
    Dr. Mari Fitzduff, professor emerita of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Eleanor Roosevelt Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard University, and Dr. Olúfémi Táíwò, professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University, discuss post-election reconciliation in the United States. Learn more about CFR's Religion and Foreign Policy Program.   FASKIANOS: Good afternoon and welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations Social Justice and Foreign Policy webinar series. I'm Irina Faskianos, vice president for the National Program and Outreach here at CFR. As a reminder, today's webinar is on the record and the audio, video, and transcript will be available on our website,, and on our iTunes podcast channel, Religion and Foreign Policy. As always, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy. We're delighted to have a distinguished panel with us today to talk about reconciliation in the United States. We've shared their long bios with you, so I'm just going to give you a few highlights and then we'll get to the conversation.   First, Dr. Mari Fitzduff is professor emerita of the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, where she was the founding director of the master's in Conflict and Coexistence Program in 2004. She served as chief executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, which is at the forefront in developing governmental policies and local community programs to tackle decades of violent conflict. She also served as director of UNU/INCORE of United Nations University Centre and one of the world's leading organizations for international research on conflict. Her latest edited book is entitled Why Irrational Politics Appeal: Understanding the Allure of Trump.   Ambassador Swanee Hunt is the Eleanor Roosevelt lecturer in public policy and founder of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. From 1993 to 1997, she represented President Bill Clinton in Austria, where she hosted negotiations and helped create a council of religious leaders focused on stopping the genocide in Bosnia. She is the founder of Hunt Alternatives, which operates out of Washington, DC, and is focused on the nonpartisan elevation of U.S. women in the highest-level elected positions combatting the demand for illegally-purchased sex, strengthening social movements, such as racial justice and climate change, and bolstering women's leadership and stopping violent conflicts. She has authored syndicated columns, numerous articles, and provided commentary, and she holds a doctorate in theology, and served as minister of pastoral care in an ecumenical parish.   Dr. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò is a professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. Prior to teaching at Cornell, Dr. Táíwò was a professor of philosophy and director of the Global African Studies program at Seattle University in Washington. His book, How Colonialism Preempted Modernity in Africa, was a joint winner of the Frantz Fanon Book Award of the Caribbean Philosophical Association in 2015. He is currently working on a monograph tentatively titled Does the United States Need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission?   Thank you all for being with us today. Dr. Fitzduff, let me begin with you to talk about the social-psychological approach to conflict and how you feel it can be applied to post-election America.   FITZDUFF: Thank you, Irina. And I'd like to begin by thanking the Council for setting up this webinar. It's just quite an extraordinary transitional time, and we're hoping for so much over the next four years. But we're also conscious what the last four years have cost many of us. I think the first thing that you have to bring to mind is what do we mean by reconciliation? Are we talking about it between Trump voters/non-Trump voters? Are we talking about people who supported the Black Lives Matter and those who didn't support it? Are we talking about the different factions within our own groups? I'm conscious that we have many people who are involved in a pastor role at this webinar today. I can guarantee probably pretty all of them have had to deal with a lot of differences within their community over the last few years. Or indeed the bitterness within families, which is often so costly to us, particularly those who went home for Thanksgiving or going home for Christmas and are hoping they don't have to have that conversation about politics. It's difficult.   The other thing, I think, we need to try and think about is between how will we know if it's successful? And one of the things that we sometimes fall into is thinking that success means we will feel good. We feel good, good about other people, they will feel good about us. But the reality is that for many people it's actually they’re taking care of systems, they're taking care of institutions to see are they going to be inclusive, are they going to deliver on equity, etcetera? So in fact, if you put those two groups together, interestingly, a lot of the work I've been doing is on neuroscience. And you actually find the neurons of those who have more power in a group like that are actually likely to be more empathetic to people who have less power. But people who have less power find it very difficult to be empathetic about the people who have more power. This has huge consequences for the way we do dialogues. In fact, it turns out that people who feel that they are discriminated against, they're being left out, they feel empathetic when others who have more power feel empathetic towards them. But they do find it hard to bypass that idea, that in fact, as far as they're concerned, there is injustice determining their lives.   And I think it's also important to remember that reconciliation is actually often about emotions. I'm just thinking that how many of us have had the struggle of trying to reason with others about our ideas and found ourselves hitting up against walls we didn't understand. In fact, very often, if you ask people why they believe in certain things—in the middle of Brexit at the moment or why they want to support Trump—very often you find they can't articulate. It's not about issues. It's not about the particulars of social welfare, etcetera, etcetera. It's often something that they feel, much more than what they think. And I think that the fact that feelings are so prominent in these kinds of issues means that leaders can use these feelings very much. I think it's been very clear now to us for some time that Brexit leaders won the Brexit debate here in the UK because they went around and asked people not about what they thought about the issues, what they were going to gain or lose in terms of economics, etcetera, but what they were afraid of and what they were angry about. And they then took all of those feelings together and created a campaign around it. So in a sense, you're talking about people, we're often talking about emotional polarization rather than necessarily ideological and multiple [inaudible].   I think there's also some evidence in terms of the Trump campaign. I remember being very startled when would be President Clinton talked about Trump supporters as deplorables. And talking about them as racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic. Imagine if you'd been listening to that, and what it would have done to your self-esteem? And a lot of my evidence shows that, in fact, a lot of people turned towards voting for Trump who were perhaps on the edge of who they would vote for when they actually heard that because of the way they felt about it. So, if we're talking about using—a lot of my work, as you said, I've written a book about why people voted for Trump. My next book is called Our Brains in Conflict. Because very often in most of the conflicts that Swanee and I would be involved in—Swanee, you would know this—often it's about emotions, people who have worked together, who had lived together can suddenly turn against each other. And, in fact, in places like Rwanda and Bosnia, suddenly you find them killing each other. What is this about? It's not about rationality. And therefore, I think, when we think of our programs, we have to think about how we can address these factors. My own doctorate was working at people who had been paramilitary, who've been shooting and killing other people. And in fact, I was interested in those who had changed, and when I looked at it, to my surprise, it wasn't reason that changed them, but it was experiences that were attached to certain emotions that actually helped them shift their views.   So given this, there are three ways I think that we might want to consider about how we address this conflict, and indeed, the same three ways we think of addressing other conflicts as well. First one is about grievances. People who are left out, people who feel they're badly treated, and once that continues, it's almost impossible for them to be empathetic in terms of reconciliation, and we've got to remember that. We would never sign a peace agreement knowing that the same grievances that caused the war were actually going to continue without being addressed. I think the second one is, it's interesting, if you look at, and I have studied a lot of people who follow Trump, and there are some who followed him because they wanted better taxes. There are some people who followed him because of the issue of abortion, I think that's been a huge issue for many people, but they're also some who followed, if looked at their meetings, and the, sort of, the rallies that he had, some people have seen them as a hate fest because they seem to suggest hatred for other people. Others have seen them as a love fest because, in fact, it was people in love with Trump, people in love with each other, they belong to something that never belonged to before, and they felt so good about themselves. Now, the problem about that is what happens when that's gone? Trump will probably lose a lot of people. He's already losing a lot of people on Twitter. He will probably lose because he will increasingly be seen as a loser. But all that need for belonging, that need for being with people, the need for change in their societies, change in the world, that will continue. So I think we also need to look at that. And the final thing that, I think, is particularly relevant when I saw the roster you sent us of people who are here, I'm conscious that there are maybe hundreds of people who are listening who are leaders in their own rights. All the evidence shows that it doesn't really matter that much what prime ministers say, or what presidents say, or what popes say. What matters much more is what your local leaders say and the people in your community who actually are the leaders for the community. So those are the three ways in terms of addressing grievances, alternative ways for people to belong to groups that they feel good about being with, and good about doing in society, and also leadership.   And I want to end with something that gave me great hope when I was thinking of the huge challenge that lies ahead of us in terms of reconciliation. Some of you may have seen, some of you may not. Yesterday, Fox News did a poll. Surprise, surprise, it turns out that almost 60 percent of Trump voters will try to support Biden and will do their best, they will give them a chance. Only 20 percent said they would not even try to work with Biden. For me, that was a surprise. I hope it's a good surprise for people who listened to it, because the rich ground is there for the work that you, the Council, and all your listeners and members are doing. It's a tremendous opportunity for us all.   FASKIANOS: Thank you very much. Let's go to you now Ambassador Hunt. You represented President Clinton as ambassador to Austria during the Bosnian War. Can you talk about your experience with peaceful negotiation during that time as they relate to understanding conflict in the United States today?   HUNT: Yes, but Mari? Mari, you said such important things. Sorry. Sorry, Irina, but I have to, but okay, so number one. Hillary didn't say that the Trump supporters are deplorables. She said there are all kinds of people who are supporting Trump.   FITZDUFF: Yes.   HUNT: And there's some of them who are really deplorable. And we think so, too. If you cut that to a soundbite, it becomes that Trump supporters are deplorables. So we know that, right, that that's how politics works. I just want to go on record and say that it's not what she said. But it is what was repeated, but also it is what people heard. To your point, am I in that group or not? Right? So, the other is, and I worked on a taxonomy, I was going to have three sections, there are now sixteen about the Trump supporters. Oh, by the way, those of you who can see, Olúfẹ́mi has these nice books and Mari does and this is my life, right? So I decided I didn't have any nice books so I just showed you my move—the move I’m making. Okay, so I've got boxes piled up. And that's kind of how my brain works sometimes. And but it's okay, because I put these thoughts all together with this taxonomy. And it ends up with the deplorables, all right, number sixteen group. But it starts out with patriots. Yes, there are people who really, really want our country to succeed and they believe with all their hearts that Trump's leadership, maybe—, my sister said she had to hold her nose and vote for Trump. And she was in the second group, I would say. Not patriots, she was like a believer, faith believer. And he, for some crazy reason, seemed to represent the values of her faith. And then you get into the identity, like you were saying, Mari, that identity politics, butI can live with that, too. I'm pro-choice. But if someone says no, we have to protect the life of the fetus, I can go with that. And if that's why, as she said, we needed the Supreme Court. We had to have the Supreme Court, but the deal is that with these different groups, it's not like there's a box. People fit into multiple boxes and the amount they fit in changes with time. And they're porous, the size of the boxes are porous, and the boxes themselves, they get wet, and the lids fall off and, they change shape. So, it's much more complex, but actually, it's kind of like my boxes back here. It's really, really interesting. And we need to be willing to say, "Whoa, nobody understands me. And I don't understand anybody else." Not completely, not completely. So I'm going to make a lot of room for the differences among us, which is hard to do.   I'm from Dallas. I think, well, I was raised Southern Baptist, and I promise I'll get very quickly to the international, but I just want you all to know, I'm the Eleanor Roosevelt lecturer in public policy, my father did everything he could to keep the United States from joining the UN. My father was born in 1889. I found in the archives, I found the letters between him and Eleanor Roosevelt, where, I mean, these are tense letters. So, that's my background. And my sister June and I, whom I mentioned, every Monday at 9:30 we are on the phone, often for two hours, she tells me something she's very upset about politically, and then she has to tell me why. And then she has to tell me one thing she's got to do about it. And I tell her something I'm very upset about, etcetera, the same, except we are completely opposite sides. And the important thing is to say, why is that so important to you? And then what are you going to do about it? And you don't rebut. There is no rebuttal. You just listen and listen. I somehow, I so wish that could become the model. It must become the model in our country.   So in my work in Bosnia, what I thought was going to be the big religious thing was helping create an inter-religious council for Sarajevo with the Muslim community, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, and they all got together, they came to Vienna in our home and worked and worked and created this great statement. Well, it wasn't effective back in Bosnia, because it's not a religious country. But it was helpful outside for all those people who bought into Milosevic's idea where he was saying, oh, well we can't live together. And, the first person I talked to before I went, and I said we've got to intervene, and it was someone, a human rights figure, you would know his name, and he said, "Well, we can't intervene." And, I mean, this is someone who was a hero to me. And I said, "Why not?" He said, "It's a religious war." You can't—religious wars, you get sucked in. I told President Clinton, "Don't do it." And so was it a religious war? And the answer is absolutely not. I interviewed twenty-six women for seven years who were as different as can be. They were every religious group and atheists, and they were rich and poor, old and young, and rural and urban. The only thing that they adamantly agreed was this was not a religious war. And by the way, I didn't ask them. I didn't have a list of questions. I just said, "Tell me, tell me about the war." And I followed wherever they went, and they said, "Well, you know..."—then I'll stop, okay—but here's the typical answer. And I have two dozen of these in my book, which is called, it's a quote of one of them, This Was Not Our War. And I said, "Well, tell me about your kids." She said, "Oh, you should have seen my daughter in her white dress. Her little white dress with her friends." I said, "Why the white dress? "I'm going to confirmation." "Oh, oh, really? Are you Catholic?" She said, "Yes, yes. Oh, they were so cute. And, oh, her friends, who they all wanted to go too even though they weren't been confirmed.” I said, "Huh—why is that?" "Well they're not Catholic." I said, "Oh, okay. And then what did you do?" "And then we all came to the house and then we all got together, all the neighbors and my best friends. We all, had a big lunch together.” I said, "Oh, really, what did you have?" And she said, "Well, all kinds of things. We didn't have a ham." And I said, "Why didn't you have ham?" She said, "Well, because my Muslim friends." And that story over and over and over. And they didn't have to say we are a multi-religious society. And they, by the way, put ethnicity and religion together. And when I would hear these and I would hear in Liberia, the [inaudible] talking about bringing together the Muslim and the Christian communities, women—women—to bring down a dictator. And when I would hear Pastor Esther Ibanga dealing with the extremists in Nigeria doing the same thing—the Christians and the Muslims—I came to understand that the common denominator in all of these was women. Now, that's not a big surprise to you, since Harvard brought me to create the Women and Public Policy Program, right? But I hope I can say something later, I am so hopeful because of the Republican women who were elected in the House, doubled the number, just like the Dems two years earlier doubled their number. We are going to see a very, very significant change in the possibility of breaking gridlock.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. And now let's go to Dr. Táíwò about bringing your perspective on race and reconciliation. And you've been working on this issue, your thoughts on whether the U.S. would benefit from a truth and reconciliation commission. So over to you.   TÁÍWÒ: Thank you very much. First, I want to thank you for including me this conversation. And I want to thank those who are our audience for spending some of their time with us. I always think of that. What I share with you this afternoon comes from my ongoing work in which I'm calling on the United States to strike immediately, yesterday, a truth and reconciliation commission to do the following things. One, acknowledge that as a collective, the country has done harm to portions of its population. The most significant of it being its African-descended citizens on account of their sheer ratio identification. Two, establish the truth of what really went down with Black people in the history of the United States, and how that has shaped pretty much how the country has evolved to the present time. Three, put in place instruments to ensure that such harm is never again inflicted on any group. And four, commit to restoring the wrong group as a precondition for healing after reconciling the whole society. I started doing this work because, having lived here now, this is my thirty-eighth year, I've been a citizen of this country and been a student of the United States even before I got here, in Nigeria. It seems to me as if every time we make progress, we go back two steps. And having looked at other places, including, most especially, South Africa, and seeing that sometimes the argument would make about American exceptionalism hides some of the convergences between the experience of this country and the experiences of other countries that are very much like it, again, especially South Africa. That's when I said, maybe what we need is not another civil rights movement, what we need is a truth and reconciliation commission.   The assumptions here that I'm now going to address, and here they are. One, race has always been ground zero in the history of the United States. It was there when the Constitution was adopted, and Black people were not reconciled. It was there at the conclusion of the Civil War when white people were reconciled. The 1870s is compromised in the election and the removal of federal troops from the South at a time when it was very clear that the South was not reconciled to the status of Black people as full citizens of this country. It is there now when, since 1980, when Ronald Reagan won the presidency and originally declared his candidacy in Neshoba County, Mississippi, where four people, precisely from the college where I teach now, were murdered for their Freedom Rides, and that was where he chose to declare his candidacy for the presidency. The country has been complicit in festering the return of ferocious anti-Black racism that we thought the Civil Rights Legislation of 1964 and 1965 had laid to rest. So my argument is there can be no attainment of the original ideal on which this country was founded until there's full citizenship for its Black citizens. And I like to say, coming down to the specific situation of the recent election, I hope that the Biden administration does not enact another white reconciliation—that was the way it was done after the Civil War—given all the divergences that we have in the country right now and all the cry about unity. I hope that unity is not an attempt again on the back of Black and other disenfranchised citizens. I always remind people the irony is lost on everybody that the country that claims that all lives matter at its founding now needs to be reminded that Black lives matter. That's the lesson for us. Thank you very much.   FASKIANOS: Thank you very much for all of your wonderful perspectives. We appreciate it. And we're going to turn now to the group for their questions and comments. So if you see the participants icon on your screen, you can raise your hand there. If you're on a tablet, you can click on the "more" button in the upper-right hand corner and raise your hand there. And you can also type in the Q&A box a question. If you put a question in the chat, I'm not going to look there for questions. So you can comment there, but please, questions should be in the Q&A box or raise your hand. And if you could please say who you are, and you might want to direct your question to a specific speaker so we can get to as many questions as possible. So first, we have two hands up already. So we're going to first go to Tereska Lynam. Be sure to unmute yourself. Thank you.   LYNAM: Thank you, Irina, for calling on me. This is Tereska Lynam from University of Oxford but currently in Miami. And I'm going to speak to Dr. Mari Fitzduff—you all did such wonderful presentations—but Dr. Mari Fitzduff, every point was singing with me, particularly the things you mentioned about Brexit, and how that aim was really emotionally charged and manipulated as opposed to based on policies that people can get their heads around. In fact, I would argue that today, this fifteenth of December, about two weeks away from when Brexit's actually happening, people don't even know what Brexit is yet. So it's very confusing. And you wrapped up your comments about saying how we need to behave as leaders, because what I understood was people listen to more about how their communities behave and think than about how politicians instruct them to believe and hate, campaign rallies and love that's not withstanding, and I was wondering if you could tease out some examples of how you would like to see the people on this call go forth and bring a unifying message. Thank you so much.   FITZDUFF: Interesting, Tereska. Well, one of the problems that I think we have, because most of us are readers and thinkers, is that we actually think that's how people change. My own PhD many years ago looked at people who were literally using the gun to make their points. And then who have changed and discovered that, in fact, that was the exception. Not too many had reasoned themselves out of hate for the other group. They were much more likely to change because of an experience. And there are a few, and I could mention a few, but I don't want to take up too much time, there's one in particular, I remember, he was a loyalist paramilitary, and he wasn't known to be one but there was this peace group who sort of knew that he was sort of involved in politics. And they got him to come and talk to their group. And eventually, he found himself so much part of that group that he realized this belonging, this was much more important than what he had been doing in terms of his paramilitary activity. You also had many people who, for the first time, met people whom they supposedly thought they hated and had an experience that shows them that, they were just human like them. They had families like them. They cared about certain things.   So one of the things I'm encouraging us to do is to think beyond, and even if there's emotional gestures, I can remember one emotional gesture we made when we had Bono come supposedly at a peace conference and we couldn't get the leaders to actually shake hands on the stage. So I remember we got Bono, we had instructed to go on the final note, he walked on the stage, he took up the hand of one of the leader’s and the other, and he held them in the air. And just that gesture achieved so much goodwill and so much hope among people. Nothing was said. It was just a physical looking at what was happening. So I think we don't explore these enough. I mean, peace agreements often fall apart because people don't feel the peace. They know it's supposed to be there, etcetera, but they don't feel it. So a lot of the initiatives need to take that into account. They also need to take into account, I'll give you an example, though. Ireland, you probably know, has had two referenda recently—one on abortion and one on gay marriage. And both of them were won, because they very sensibly chose as citizen's assembly to do the rational thinking about the issues. And then they put it to a referendum. And if you go look at that referendum, it was the emotions of people, of young people, of families, etcetera, that actually won those very difficult issues that were particularly difficult for Ireland, which is a very Catholic country. So they were thought about very carefully, and then they were won on the basis of the emotions of examples of young children bringing their grandparents to the poll, etcetera, etcetera. So I just think we need to recognize that it's the warmth that we can engage with people is often what will change them.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'll take the next question from Rabbi Melanie Aron, "Can you speak more about the potential role of clergy at this time in bringing people together in productive ways?" Who wants to take that? Ambassador Hunt with your degree in pastoral—   HUNT: (Laughs.) I guess I got it, right?   FASKIANOS: You've got it.   HUNT: Well, what we've seen in terms of clergy is, a big swell of women in the theological seminaries. And that happened very quickly, about the same time as women who went into law school, etcetera. So, has that made a difference in terms of clergy? Well, when I go into a church, I am very struck with a woman clergy person. And I'm listening very carefully for the values for the—it's not just expressed values, it's also a way of being, there's a sort of nurturance. I wrote a piece on the motherhood of God many years ago. And these women clergy seem to be very much able to express that. Now, that may be what you would expect in the kinds of churches I go to. I go, actually, to an AME [African Methodist Episcopal] church also. I have for a few decades, actually, which is a Black church, and there'll be like five hundred Black faces and like me. (Laughs.) I said to the pastor, "I'm diversity, you need more diversity." So, I warm up—you know why I go there? In part is because it's the kind of music that I'm used to because I was raised Southern Baptist, like eighteen-hours-a-week Southern Baptist. So when I was thinking about the Southern Baptist world, I was realizing that the entire, not just when I was growing up, but even now, there are no women pastors. And in fact, I'll tell you how far it goes. You know how there'll be a platform, there's the podium and the platform with, let's say, five or six people who are doing prayers or reading scriptures. There are no women on the platform. There are no women on the platform. So where are the women? Well, when I was going to seminary, I was at admissions and I was looking, well, they couldn't find my card. They couldn't find it. And so finally they said, "Oh, no, no, no, no. Your husband is Mark Meeks." I said, "Yes." And they said, "Well, here's his card. And I said, "Yes, but I’m Swanee." Right? And they said, "No, no, but you're registered there." I said, "No." So then they had put me in children's education instead of, as you know, I'm studying systematic theology. And so there is such a gap in that conservative world where I'm not now, but that's part of what we're up against. If you think about the politics, etcetera, you find that in the clergy—clergical world, also. That's an extremely important part.   Mari, I'm thinking what you said about the local leadership. People want to belong to some kind of group, that's part of my Trumpian taxonomy. There is that sense of the normative group. They also just want to belong, like belong to a gang or whatever. But also, they want to feel like they're in step with. And the church or synagogue or the faith group creates a norm. And we have got to focus on that. And then when I think of Joe Biden, I think, you know what, you won't find anyone more devout than Joe Biden is. Jimmy Carter, right? And by the way, Jimmy Carter was First Southern Baptist, maybe the only Southern Baptist ever as president. And I remember going to First Baptist Church in Dallas and hearing from the pulpit why we must not vote for Jimmy Carter. And that's pretty raw. Look, you all, I know I'm talking a lot about the evangelical world because I actually know that world. And my guess is that a lot of people on this call don't. And I need to get inside of their heads for you. These are not bad people. Mari, you said to me when your husband was going across country, was he on a motorcycle? Anyway, he—what did you say?   FITZDUFF: Bicycle. Yes, on the bicycle.   HUNT: Yes, okay. And you said, you quoted him saying, "You know the nicest people that I came across in the diners—they were the Trump supporters. They would take off their MAGA hat and see if your tires had enough air.” Keep that in mind.   FASKIANOS: So I'm going to take two—another question from the chat. I'm also going to read a comment from Reverend Dr. Stephen Ohnsman, who represents the Calvary United Church of Christ. His perspective is he thinks “our division, our problems” go all back to his belief “that we're still fighting the Civil War. Racism is our original sin and isn't South versus North, it's what sides of the argument over race and equality you are.” And then Galen Carey, who heads up the National Association of Evangelicals, has a question for you, Dr. Táíwò, about the TRC proposal in South Africa: “Those who testified were granted immunity in exchange for truth. Here in the U.S., most white Americans don't face legal liability as beneficiaries of white privilege, what would be the incentive for those who would testify before the American TRC?”   TÁÍWÒ: I think the first thing to realize is that there has been at least, well, they are true but the most significant one that I've studied was the TRC in Greensboro, North Carolina. And they conducted it with the advice of people from South Africa. And it actually offers a model for what can be used nationally. It was all the case about murder, about court cases, nobody getting convicted. But, as a result of striking details in Greensboro, all those who took part went out to talk about what they did on the fateful day that the incidents happened, as a precondition for the community to acknowledge the hurt that had been done to particular groups within the city as a precondition for moving forward. Now, there are all kinds of ways in which we can talk about incentivizing people, to come forward. Remember, depending on what time frame we choose, we can go all the way back to the founding of the country, and we can do like they did in South Africa, they just decided to go back to 1961 to 1994. And what was important was to write into the report how the country got to that particular fork in the road. I think we can learn from that. And we can work out what the committees will be.   FASKIANOS: Terrific. Galen, I see you also have your hand raised. Are there any comments you want to add to that? You have to accept the unmute prompt.   CAREY: Yes, thank you. So, I guess what I'm understanding is that your thought is that this would be about people who did actual crimes coming forth to confess them more than just how all the people who in general benefit from white dominance of our society and economy and so forth.   TÁÍWÒ: Naturally, again, the circumstances in this country are not be exactly the same. We can get the scaffolding, as I call it in the book, from South Africa, from New Zealand, even from Canada. But who would put on the scaffolding would pay attention to this specific mix of the historical development of this country, and that will mean a much wider pool of people come in to enter stuff into the record. Think of Tulsa, 1921. Think of Rosewood, Florida. Those are all elements that will have to be entered in because people need to know that even when Black people, in their isolation with racism, created wealth, built cities, white resentment won't stand those cities. And many of the students that I teach don't know this. And many people buy into the idea that if there are problems that Black people continue to have, their problems that relates to Black culture, if not, all of the horrors, Black personality. Those are the things we need to enter into the record as a condition for changing even the way we tell the history of this country from grade school all the way to university.   FASKIANOS: Thank you, let's go to Shaik Ubaid, he has raised his hand. And please unmute yourself. Thank you.   UBAID: Wonderful presentation and thank you for this opportunity. Can you hear me?   FITZDUFF: Yes.   UBAID: For truth and reconciliation, I think we have to first make sure that both parties understand each other. For example, reparations are so important for closure and healing, but if the majority community is not made to understand why the talk of reparations will actually help further polarized and help demagogues like Trump and Bannon, etcetera. So, having been part of a community, which was victimized here in the U.S. in the last four years, especially, and also in India, which has seen the rise of Nazi-like ideology, and having been involved in seeking peace and justice in Bosnia and Burma, I'm also worried that we have to be more focused on delivering justice. For example, in Bosnia, especially Biden was the person who imposed the agreement. The community, which suffered massive atrocities, including mass rapes and genocide, was not given justice and the closure and healing has become so difficult there. So, similarly here the African American community has not received reparations. But before all that to start, we have to address the natural fears of the white community when they see the demographic shift and they see the browning of America. So the role that the intellectuals and the clergy plays is very important. And we need some concrete steps to help the clergy teach their congregation about why we should understand the other side and why healing and justice is so important for the whole community. That was my comment.   HUNT: Okay, can I just ask for clarification. I wonder if you, maybe, just misspoke when you said Biden was in—Mari, do you want to say or shall I—okay, when you said that Biden was involved with the splitting of Bosnia. Is that—   UBAID: When the final agreement was made, Biden played an important role, Joe Biden, in the final agreement where Milosevic of Bosnia was, his arm twisted to accept  the partition of Bosnia and  so that is what was going on towards the end of the war. The whole world probably was tired of the genocide, but unlike in Germany, Bosnia did not see that justice.   HUNT: Well, you and I have different information on that. Joe Biden was the chair of the committee that confirmed me as ambassador and his passion was Bosnia. And when I went as ambassador to Austria, he was pushing me to do whatever I could to bring the Clinton administration to intervene to stop the genocide. And we were opposed by the CIA and the Department of Defense, in fact, but Biden was the one who—he heralded my work dramatically in terms of bringing people together. So I'm surprised that he played that role at Dayton with the final agreement. I hadn't heard that. I don't want to be defensive. You go ahead, Mari, save me.   FITZDUFF: Swanee, sorry for distracting you. I was just so struck by the previous comments. One of the things, and this may not be very fashionable thing to say, Dr. Olúfẹ́mi, I know it may not be to you or to Shaik Ubaid, but I'm thinking in terms of, I know, there's a bit over about forty truth and reconciliation commissions, and some of them have been more successful than others. One of the problems they've run into, and indeed we run into it at Brandeis with the Black Lives Matter movement, was that when we try to address issues for those who are African American heritage, we then had others who were Native American, we then had others who are from Africa itself lately come, and we almost had a competitive kind of victim/race happening in terms of who’s actually needs would be addressed. Now, we face this in Northern Ireland and the civil—obviously in Northern Ireland, those of you who know the history, Protestants were better off than Catholics and had been deliberately so. So the civil servants were very eager to actually favor, and those who wanted to end the war, to favor programs that would favor Catholics. But then you've got into a problem because there were some rich Catholics and a lot of poor Protestants. So my sense is, once we'd go to look at the question of inequality, if we try to do an identity, we come into so many problems. If you actually try to do it in terms of actual poverty, or exclusion from education, or any of the other sort of norms that actually prevent people from being included and thriving in our society, you actually have much less of a backlash, because, for instance, we did see a backlash from people who were seen as white and poor, and they felt they were being ignored in terms of people who are Black and poor. I think, we're probably better developing our programs against poverty rather than actually against identity, because identity actually can be very messy. I mean, for instance in South Africa, and I know quite a bit about that commission there, South Africa they rightly began to say, companies and NGOs, etcetera, how to have a proportion of Black population. But actually what happened there was it was a few Black people who happened to have the education, and therefore the opportunity, actually took many of the positions of power of inclusion, etcetera, and still there were a lot of people who were left behind. Whereas those people who are left behind are really the people that we need to, in a sense, help to come through in all of their glory as it were. It's not a fashionable way to look at it, but I do think looking at programs of equality and inclusion in terms of identity, it just brings up so many problems, as we would know in the United States.   TÁÍWÒ: Can I come in here?   FASKIANOS: Absolutely. Go ahead.   TÁÍWÒ: I think there are two issues here that we need to separate. A truth and reconciliation commission is specifically about this particular category of hurts. Truth and reconciliation commission is not about economic projects. It's only to the extent that the harm that was done impacts economic situations that we begin to address that. And in this particular case of the United States, what cannot be denied are two things. One, the genocide against the Native peoples, okay, and the taken away, of land and all that, and chattel slavery of Black people. Now, there are some qualitative differences even when we talk about that, you do have multiple sovereignties for Native peoples in this country. And as many white people are realizing, Oklahoma being the most recent example, even though whenwhite colonists signed those agreements, they had no intention of recognizing them. The law is now catching up with them, more than a century later. And the Supreme Court is saying that is Indian land. End our story. You don't have that option for Black people in this country. And my argument is that when you read the record, at every point anti-Black racism has remained a specific kind of racism that continues not to be addressed, and I'm saying the only way to address this is the truth and reconciliation method so that people actually see that racism covers a lot of ground in this country, but there is a specific anti-Black racism that needs to be addressed. And actually, I have argued that a lot of the protests right now against police killings, and so on and so forth, come from a continuing refusal to grant that Black people are routinely human. And you don't find that with any other group that has been denied in this country.   FASKIANOS: So we have two on point questions. So I'm going to just throw both of them out there. From Marina Buhler-Miko of St. Alban's Episcopal Church, "trying to use a model of truth and reconciliation practice by Archbishop Tutu in South Africa," she found "that it's hard to duplicate it in other cultures. What is missing is a strong sense of importance of community that grows out of the African Ubuntu theology. How would you talk about that?" And then Richard Rubinstein got to your point, Mari, he's at the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter School at George Mason University. He "admires all of you. The conversation has been divided by ideology, religion, cultural values, and race, but can true reconciliation take place without major changes in the system that produces such gross social and economic inequality? Do we have to do something about the excessive power of the super-rich and the split between technological and blue-collar workers?" So put both of those out there. I know, you've gone at it a little bit, you might want to dig in a little bit more. Dr. Táíwò, do you want to respond first? And then we'll go to Dr. Fitzduff.   TÁÍWÒ: The argument that Ubuntu does not travel to other cultures? Is that the question?   FASKIANOS: I think it's more not that it doesn't travel, but the importance of community that grows out of the theology might not be in other cultures. That's how I'm interpreting that comment.   TÁÍWÒ: Yes. I think—   FASKIANOS: It's harder to follow the model.   TÁÍWÒ: Yes, I think part of the problem is that people too often reduce the TRC in South Africa to Tutu's theology, and again, I think the two can be separated. The reason why I use South Africa is that South Africa and the United States share something in common, which is the racial dimension of this. And in a way that, for instance, the Eurasia dimension is present in New Zealand, you know, but it is more in terms of genocide and deprivation of taking people's land and all that. Whereas in South Africa, it was a deliberate effort to dehumanize and degrade the Black people. But the other part that, again, comes out of that, and this is the point that I've now made, societies that have gone with the truth and reconciliation commission, are precisely those societies that are worried that they have become unrecognizable to themselves. And it is an acknowledgment that this is now who we are and we can do better than this that drives the effort to even forgive very heinous crimes as a precondition for creating a different society. That's why the truth and reconciliation commission is not strictly speaking a legal justice mechanism. It is a mechanism for moving closer to what Martin Luther King calls the "Beloved Community," in where do we go from here. And that is why in all those countries, including, significantly Rwanda, you cannot go back and prosecute all those who are involved. But you want everybody to realize "we did this, that is not us, and we will never again create a condition that will make us go there." So that is what the United States, I'm saying, can learn from that procedure. And it is, again, that's why I call it "ground zero," to reconstitute the ideals on which this country was founded and move closer to it by making a whole those who have been harmed as a precondition for making the whole society whole again.   HUNT: Irina, let me speak after Mari, okay?   FASKIANOS: Okay.   FITZDUFF: Well, I just want to briefly to say, I think, since you've been studying it, the truth and reconciliation commissions, they do often fall short. And for the very good reason that, for instance, South Africa, a lot of people who said they were looking for the truth and found the truth, it wasn't till afterwards they realized they were disappointed because they didn't have justice. In Rwanda, there has been a very interesting system called the Gacaca system, which is a community system, which might well be better suited for the United States. But even there you found it was tainted by power because by and large, it was the Tutsis who were challenged rather than the Hutus. So every truth and reconciliation commission will take on as it were some of the existing power patterns that there are. And also the nature of reconciliation itself, I've spoken to the person in charge of the 9/11 Commission, in terms of the victims, and he said something to me. He said, "People who are victims, it's almost impossible to give them what they want." Because first of all, like 9/11, they really want their people back again. So inherently, this work is very, very difficult. I've spoken to a lot of people who've been involved in it. I think the discussion about it is really useful—really useful—because then we begin to see what are we trying to do with it and who is going to be part of it? Who needs to be there? Who has the power? Who needs to be there? Who feels there's a victim? So I encourage the discussion, but no way is it an easy path forward as you've already acknowledged. Swanee, sorry.   HUNT: And I was just about, I just wrote a note about Rwanda right before you said it. I wrote a book actually called Rwandan Women Rising about how they became the highest in the world, by a longshot in terms of women's representation in parliament. And by longshot, I mean, 64 percent and the next was like 52 percent. I attended a couple of the Gacaca trials and Gacaca, of course, meaning "on the grass." After the genocide—my numbers, maybe, it's yes, this is how wildly off I could be, it's either five-hundred thousand or eight-hundred thousand—essentially men in the prisons, and there were fifty lawyers, so obviously,  the regular system wasn't going to work. And it was women who actually designed the Gacaca system, and for the first time there were women judges there. And in a significant number. Of the hundred people who were tried in the tribunal in Arusha for having planned the genocide, there was one woman. And Mari, in terms of the power dynamics, 90 percent in Bosnia, I think, almost any human rights group will tell you that they are estimating 90 percent of the human rights violations were committed by the Serbs, not the country, not the Republic of the Serbs, but by Serb leadership, paramilitaries, etcetera. So it's easy. The military would say we've got to be evenhanded, right? What is evenhanded mean? Does that mean—and one of them said to me, we have to have, a four-star general, we have to have a same number of Croats and Bosniaks, the Muslims, and the Serbs at the tribunal. And I said, "No, I think evenhanded means you have a base idea, which is did you commit atrocities? And we look past the power part in terms of—it's about atrocity. So again, the women, because that's what I do, okay, I do women, but the women in Bosnia, one of the reasons those trials were successful is they went to testify, and they had to go to The Hague, by the way, from Sarajevo. This was a big deal. And they went, and they supported the women who were going to testify about the rapes. So it's not just that the women prefer—and so it's not just that the women were raped, it's that they went and testified about it and they weren't going to be able to do that if they didn't have the support of other women who went on the plane with them, etcetera, etcetera.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. I'm going to go next to Gabriel Salguero. I know you have your hand raised and you've written your question, but I'm just going to let you ask it directly.   SALGUERO: First, thank you. Thank each of you for your time. My name is Gabriel Salguero. I'm the president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition. And I want to talk about leadership. You all mentioned in terms of reconciliation, justice, restitution. What about leaders who inhabit multiple spaces? To some degree, Ambassador, you spoke about women in leadership, conservative women, how they may change. Dr., you spoke about evangelicals. Hispanic evangelicals, one-third of them voted for President Trump. And two-thirds of them voted for President-elect Biden and [Vice] President-elect Harris. And so oftentimes when we start talking about evangelicals and reconciliation, now I'm talking about the particular U.S. present reality, among others, we often forget, to quote Ralph Ellison, to the "invisible" persons of evangelicals of color, who are often speaking to issues of racism and restitution and criminal justice reform, but at the same time, hold to some of the evangelical tenants that you've mentioned, Ambassador, of the Southern Baptists and others. And so there may be a unique role in missional context, it's called "third culture people," who inhabit multiple roles. And what is their role, the leadership of faith people of color, in the work of reconciliation or restitution? I'm quite concerned that much of the liturgy, literature, and much of the reading doesn't speak to that. Actually, in Bosnia, there were some evangelical gypsies that I worked with that had an interesting role, because they worked with the Gitanos in our community and they were evangelical and poor people. So the leader of people of color who inhabit multiple roles, sometimes conservative, sometimes progressive, sometimes historically oppressed groups.   HUNT: I was thinking when you spoke, I was thinking, I wonder, that kind of sounds like Jesus,  this sort of third culture people. I mean, people forget Jesus was a Jew, right? And he was breaking every, every norm and talking to people he wasn't supposed to be talking to and especially condemning the religious people. He was really, He was really a maverick there. And He seemed to not identify with any one particular group in terms of all of the different Jewish groups at the time. He was like his own person. And when He would speak, it was this huge draw to others because of what He was saying it was so iconoclastic, this idea of you forgive, forgive, and forgive. And you will forgive seven times, no, you forgive seven times seventy, which means all the time. So I link that to the whole truth and reconciliation concept. What do you all think about that, Mari and Olúfẹ́mi?   FITZDUFF: It's not a field I know enough about to speak about it.   HUNT: Good, then I can say whatever I want.   SALGUERO: Well, I just wondering why there's not much literature on the role of that type of leadership, because they cross pollinate so many constituencies that are often crossing, talking past each other. Where is the kind of—or maybe there is literature and I've missed it? What is the role of that type of leader who inhabits multiple spaces often contradictory and opposing spaces?   HUNT: They get crucified.   TÁÍWÒ: No, no, listen, about that is, that I don't come from that area. Because for me, trying to separate and then in academia, the way people always find some narrow neck of the woods that they want to focus on and then ignore the kind of complexity that you're talking about, is something that personally, as a teacher, I struggle with and part of what I was trying to encourage my students to address precisely what you're talking about. Just to add to the categories that you have mentioned, many young people that I teach think that to be Black and conservative is a contradiction in terms. So they don't even know that there's a very strong tradition of Black conservatism in this country. And in a few years down the road, I'm planning to put together a class on that, just to inform the young people who come to me. So yes, I'm with you. And we sometimes drop the ball.   FASKIANOS: Go ahead, Mari.   FITZDUFF: I don't want to say anything about the issue, because I don't know enough about it. But having looked at your roster, I would have thought there are many people who are part of that community that you're putting together, that actually would be very interested in these possibilities. And it could be a possibility that perhaps could be taken up by Gabriel at some stage in the future.   FASKIANOS: Terrific suggestion. There are several questions in the chat looking at the role of social media. How can you repair society when power turns on such divisions, social divisions? What role can social media play in local community building? Do you have good examples of grassroots community building or resiliency through the use of social media? And then obviously, we do have this role that the media is playing. I think you mentioned Fox News, but then you have these two farther right news organizations now that are really putting people in very different universes. So if you could talk a little bit, in your experience, give us your thoughts on those issues?   FITZDUFF: Well, this actually is something I have been writing about for quite a few years. Because I could give you examples from dozens of conflicts around the world where peacekeeping efforts, peacemaking efforts, were destroyed by people using social media to distribute rumors, etcetera. The people who've been doing a lot of work on this are the Alliance for Peacebuilding and they actually have—and the Toda Institute—and they actually have begun to get together the peace-building community to actually address these issues.   One very interesting example is actually the Baltics because they are so near Russia, which, of course, is king of the distribution of fake news, etcetera. They actually, every school actually has to have classes, which look at ensuring that children are educated about how they read the media, how they read social media, so they can learn to see what's fake news, how they're being manipulated, etcetera. Frankly, our field of peacebuilding is one of the biggest challenges that we're facing. But luckily enough, I think people are beginning to rise to it. So anybody who's interested to have a look at the Alliance for Peacekeeping, they have a whole committee that actually has a huge number of resources on how a lot of the peace-building communities are beginning to get together to address this. And not only that, but actually we have Facebook on board. We have a lot of these, sort of, major distributors of social media on board as well, who are beginning to take on the issue that peace is being destroyed by the kind of tricks and treason that many people are actually using it for and are very willing to work with our community in terms of addressing it. So the news is very bad news but accompanied with a little bit of good news.   FASKIANOS: Thank you, I'm going to go next to Jonathan Golden. Jonathan, you have your hand raised and you typed your chat. So why don't you just ask your question?   GOLDEN: Yes, hi, thank you so much. So, yes, I've done some research also interviewing victims, survivors, and, perpetrators of these crimes and acts of sectarian violent conflict. And I kind of always do ask the question about whether or not there should be a truth and reconciliation process and so forth. And this is, particularly looking at Israel, Palestine, and looking at Northern Ireland. And obviously, in the former, we're not in a post, far from a post-conflict situation. And so, the question is, do they envision going forward, would that be helpful? What I often hear a lot of is that many people anyway have said, many of the survivors, that they don't see it as particularly helpful, that they feel that there's a point where, after which hearing more and more of the horrors that happen is piling on, that it's opening up old wounds. And,  there's a famous case in Israel where there was a—one of the people that was involved in the Munich Olympics, kidnapping and murder, who then years later reemerged as a negotiator who was doing work with Israel, and it was kind of a "don't ask, don't tell." And as soon as he went public, that he had been involved with it, Israel said, well, now we can't talk to you anymore. I've had people on both sides of the divide in Northern Ireland say the same thing. So that would be my question to you is where, to the whole panel, where do you see a kind of tipping point where there's like too much truth?   TÁÍWÒ: I don't think I can ever be too much truth. And I think the problem is that people keep thinking of this in legal terms. Unfortunately, I have to say, processing the whole truth and reconciliation as part of some kind of transition of justice, I have found, has not been helpful. Truth is one part; reconciliation is another. The way I like to put it is we can have truth without reconciliation. But we can never have reconciliation without truth. And when people always say that, oh, yeah, people committed heinous things, they get away with it and all that, the society is concerned with how do we, in the context of a single citizenship, move forward and build a better society? We already have examples in this country. Gary Ridgway, who is one of the most efficient serial killers in this country, was spared the death penalty because he was willing to take people to where he dumped bodies, where people's bodies can be found, so that those families will actually come to some awareness of what happened to their people. And they were willing for that information, because it's more important for them to honor their dead than it is to see him put to death. That doesn't do anything for anybody. And my point is that we need to move away from via the charity as a legal mechanism. In fact, people choose the TRC because they come to what I call, "the limits of the law." And once we come to an awareness of that, there's a whole lot that, look, in South Africa, they could have gone back to 1910 where they got independence. They could have gone back to 1948 when apartheid was imposed by the Afrikaners, they could have, but they just said, we need a slice of our time so that we can just tell people, no. Stuff went down in this country, and we need to ensure that future generations not only know this, but that they do everything they can to make sure we never fall in that hole again.   FASKIANOS: Thank you. We have so many raised hands and questions. We are not going to get to them all, but maybe we could close with Ian Draker's question and it gets to facts. "Truth and reconciliation presupposes that all sides will recognize and acknowledge the truth when it is presented. We've just seen in this election that the country, some cannot agree that the last presidential election was fair and honest, and that Biden is indeed the president-elect. So what do we do? How do we advance truth? Or how do we put forward facts and bridge this divide of what's true and what's not?" And maybe we can go around the virtual table for each of you to take a couple of minutes to just give us your closing thoughts.   FITZDUFF: Okay, I'll start then. And if it's obvious that people can't face facts, I think the thing you have to think about is why not? Would it cut them off from the group? Will it change their perspective on life that they don't want to change? Will a challenge significant beliefs? There's a very good reason why people choose their own facts, because they want them to fit with their perspective. And to do anything else is probably too challenging to them. So the work you'll often have to do is being—the first thing we often think of is challenging people through facts. It never works making people defensive. You often have to build up trust, build up relationships, and then facts can be then be agreed between you. But I think the problem is we often cannot believe that people don't believe the same way that we believe and we forget that people believe what they believe for very good reasons of community, of personality, etcetera, etcetera.   FASKIANOS: Ambassador Hunt?   HUNT: Well, I'm going to be consistent. The election was called on the seventh of November. And that same day, Lisa Murkowski called Joe Biden to congratulate him. And on Sunday, it was Mitt Romney. And on Monday, it was Ben Sasse and Susan Collins. Two of the four were women. Totally disproportionate to the number of women in the Senate. And it was two weeks before the next Republican called. So I'm going to go out there and tell you that women introduce bills way, way more than men do, meaning like ninety a year compared to seventy a year. And not only that, but they also get co-sponsors, sponsorships nine times on average, and men get six. So I think what we need to do to heal the country is for every one of us to be encouraging the election of more women. And the Republicans have decided to diversify or die. And that is a very good thing that they have figured that out. And they ran a whole lot of Republican women against Democratic women, which was the smartest thing they possibly could have done. And yet the Democratic women held their own. They maintained their numbers from two years earlier where they had doubled their numbers, and now the Republicans have doubled.   You all, I know, it sounds like, why does she keep talking about this, but there are reasons. There are reasons. If you have women, you all, in terms of internationally, I don't know if you know this, I'm sure you do, Professor Olúfẹ́mi, but normally a peace agreement after war last five years, it's average. If you have women signatories to that agreement, there is three times the chance that it will last twenty years as if you compare it if you only have men. Those are real numbers. Those are real lives. What I just described is millions and millions and millions of lives. And we can do this, we can do something about this internationally. We can do it in our own country. We just have to sometimes say, surely this is too simple, right? No, it isn't too simple. Let's put on a gender lens. Don't be afraid of it. It's not being chauvinistic. Take a look at the data.   FASKIANOS: Dr. Táíwò, over to you for the final word.   TÁÍWÒ: We have to restore confidence in the existence of truth. There are no multiple truths. And there are no alternative truths. And I can tell you, many of us in academics are responsible for creating this condition where people think there are liberal truths and there are conservative truths. And to the extent that we can train the future generation to recenter that common task of trying to come to the truth collectively, in spite of all our disagreements, the greater the likelihood that we'll be able to do some of the things that both Mari and Swanee have asked us to work on. And I stand with that. Thank you.   FASKIANOS: Thank you all very much for this wonderful conversation. We really appreciate your being with us and to everybody's questions and comments. Very rich dialogue. I'm sorry, we could not get to you all, but we have a tradition of trying to end on time. We've gone over a little bit, my apologies. So I encourage you to follow our distinguished panelists on Twitter. You can follow Dr. Mari Fitzduff at @TheHellerSchool, Ambassador Swanee Hunt at @SwaneeHunt, and Dr. Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò at @AfricanaCU. We hope you also follow us on our Religion and Foreign Policy Program on Twitter at @CFR_Religion for information about events and information about the latest CFR resources and also please do send us an email to [email protected] with any suggestions on future webinars or speakers or whatnot. We look forward to hearing from you. So again, thank you all. It's been a wonderful conversation.   HUNT: You did a good job.   TÁÍWÒ: Thank you very much. This has been great to meet all of you. I really appreciate it. And thanks for making me a part of the conversation   FITZDUFF: And I hope we meet again. Better time.
  • United States
    CFR Fellows' Book Launch Series With Charles A. Kupchan
    Charles A. Kupchan discusses his new book, Isolationism: A History of America’s Efforts to Shield Itself From the World. From the founding era until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States avoided strategic commitments abroad, with brief exceptions during the Spanish-American War and World War I. The United States then abandoned isolationism amid World War II and the Cold War, and instead embraced global engagement. Isolationism, however, is currently making a comeback as Americans pull away from foreign entanglement. Isolationism explores the enduring connection between the isolationist impulse and the American experience across the full arc of U.S. history. The CFR Fellows’ Book Launch series highlights new books by CFR fellows.
  • India
    WhatsApp With India?
    Roughly four hundred million people in India use the encrypted messaging platform WhatsApp. Now, the country’s ruling party is trying to force WhatsApp to let the government trace and censor messages. The outcome could change digital freedoms in the world’s largest democracy, and could have strong implications for the future of privacy everywhere.
  • Immigration and Migration
    Trump’s Latest Immigration Restrictions Are Ill-Advised—and Un-American
    Immigration benefits the United States while hewing to the nation's founding principles. 
  • Donald Trump
    Patriot Games: President Trump Again Puts the “Nation” in United Nations
    Though Trump’s tone was solemn and even-keeled, the overall thrust of his UN General Assembly speech was of transactional nationalism, emphasizing the importance of pursuing national interests and combating globalism.
  • Space
    The Moon Landing Anniversary Confronts America With a Fateful Choice
    Fifty years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, U.S. policymakers face the choice of whether to put humanity on a trajectory of peaceful cooperation or dangerous militarization in space.