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In Theory

March 05, 2010

On Feb. 23, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs came out with a report by a task force, “Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy,” which examined the importance of religion in American foreign policy.

“The success of U.S. diplomacy in the next decade will be measured in no small part by its ability to connect with the hundreds of millions of people throughout the world whose identity is defined by religion,” Chicago Council officials said in releasing the report.

An example of a step in the right direction, according to the council, was President Obama’s June 2009 speech in Cairo, in which he publicized a new direction in U.S. foreign policy of engaging with Muslim communities around the globe.

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Do you agree that American diplomacy should focus more on the religious dimension in international relations? And do you think that the U.S. government could do a better job of engaging with religions abroad? Or should a similar effort be made at home?

The idea that there could be any advantage to diplomatic relations by including religious discussions is totally absurd. All the various religions are so adamant that their particular Gods, dogmas, opinions and requirements are so important and so specific that any such discussions would only bring out their disagreements rather than allow and promote diplomatic compromises and agreements. It would be a diversion from the basic points of discussion and become a pure waste of time.

The founders of our country formed a secular government to avoid getting involved in religions. Every time our government gets involved with religious ideas it only makes things more difficult and promotes pretense as opposed to honesty. Obama has many good qualities, but his support of fanatic religious figures like Rick Warren, while ignoring common sense, is not one of them. Washington, Adams, and many other important founders all indicated that the government should be free from religion. They were right, and Obama is wrong.

Jerry Parks

Member, Humanist Assn. of Orange County

We are a nation of religious illiterates. Including study of world religions in public elementary and secondary schools should be a priority. Concerns about proselytizing and indoctrination are justified, but they should not prevent the study of religious traditions as an academic subject.

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