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Role of Religion in U.S. Foreign Policy Focus of New Council Initiative

February 6, 2006

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February 6, 2006 —The Council has launched a Religion and Foreign Policy Initiative to connect with—and serve as a resource for—religious and congregational leaders and thinkers whose voices are increasingly important to the national foreign policy debate. “This group has a dynamic and growing influence in American public life,” said Council President Richard N. Haass. “The Council is well positioned to help its members and the public gain a deeper understanding of the issues at the intersection of religion and U.S. foreign policy.”

To that end, a new Religious Advisory Committee has been formed to provide guidance for all aspects of this initiative. It includes former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, principal of the Albright Group LLC; Reza Aslan, author of No god but God; Reverend Chloe A. Breyer of St. Mary’s Manhattanville; Father J. Bryan Hehir, professor at Harvard University’s Hauser Center; Luis E. Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life; Olin C. Robison of the Salzburg Seminar; Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of the Appeal of Conscience Foundation; Chris Seiple, president of the Institute for Global Engagement; and Peter Steinfels, codirector of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture. The committee will be expanded in the upcoming year to include other prominent religious leaders and thinkers.

  • Religion and Foreign Policy Meeting Series, in New York and Washington, on the impact of religious doctrine on foreign policy. In recent months, the Council has hosted Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; Rick Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church and author of The Purpose Driven Life; Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington; and Vali R. Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council and professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School. The National Program teleconferences and/or webcasts these sessions to members outside of New York and DC.
  • Evangelicals and Foreign Policy Roundtable , under the direction of Nancy Roman, vice president and director of the Council’s Washington program. The roundtable seeks to engage evangelical leaders in discussions about foreign policy issues ranging from trade and development to religious freedom and human rights.
  • Study Group on Religion and U.S. Foreign Policy in the Contemporary World, cosponsored with the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Led by Council Senior Fellow Walter Russell Mead, the study group is examining the role of religion in American and international life and will develop an analytical framework and long-term research agenda.
  • Encourage religious and congregational leaders to apply for the Council’s International Affairs Fellowship Program, which offers a year of research and writing or service in a policy-oriented environment;
  • Award a visiting fellowship to a religious or congregational leader who will spend a year affiliated with the Council expanding his or her knowledge of international relations and U.S. foreign policy;
  • Increase programming through the Religion and Foreign Policy Meetings Series, an annual religion and foreign policy lectureship, and roundtable series in New York, Washington, and across the country;
  • Teleconference and/or webcast select Council meetings to religious and congregational leaders and develop a special section on the Council’s website,, for materials of particular interest to this community;
  • Engage professors and students at seminary schools, Bible colleges, and universities with religious programs in the Council’s Academic Conference Call Series and arrange for Council fellows and senior staff to attend and speak at major religious conferences;
  • Conduct research and produce scholarly work on religion and foreign policy issues that intersect with the religious community’s interests, i.e., U.S. policy toward Africa, the Middle East/Israel, democracy promotion, human rights and religious freedom, environmental protection/climate change, development, and poverty alleviation;
  • Develop workshops that convene religious and congregational leaders to discuss pressing foreign policy concerns with Council fellows and members.

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