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Foreign Policy Analysis
U.S. Engaging with Religious Actors & Institutions on Foreign Policy

U.S. Engaging with Religious Actors & Institutions on Foreign Policy

SECRETARY KERRY: Since becoming Secretary,
I have made a regular and intentional effort to benefit from the wisdom and to exchange
ideas with representatives of the major religious traditions. To that end, I have met with Pope
Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Sunni and Shia Muslim leaders, representatives of
Jewish communities in Europe and the United States, American Hindus, Orthodox Christians,
and many more. But for obvious reasons of time, the personal efforts of any Secretary
of State can never be nearly enough. And that is why in 2013, when I became Secretary, in
my first year – first months – I established an Office of Religion and Global Affairs headed
by Shaun Casey, who is here with us tonight, one of our country’s leading thinkers on
religion in public life. I asked Shaun to take on sort of three missions in this effort:
to advise me on how religion impacts U.S. foreign policy priorities, to support the
entire State Department in better understanding religion and engaging religious communities,
and to establish wider and deeper ties with key stakeholders across the globe. In fulfilling
those mandates, Shaun has pulled together a team of experts who have met with thousands
of religious officials from five continents. And by the way, Shaun not only is here tonight,
but he’s here with his chief of staff, Liora Danan, who is a Rice grad, folks, so there
you go. (Applause.) I don’t know where she is. Stand up. Are you here somewhere? Where
are you? Bashful – she’s over here. Okay. Embarrassed her. Shaun’s office also includes
a special envoy on anti-Semitism, Ira Forman, and a special representative to Muslim communities,
Shaarik Zafar, and he grew up, by the way, right here in Houston. And he has built – they
have built, frankly, together – valuable connections to Muslim men and women in every
corner of the globe. And we’ve also greatly expanded our Office of International Religious
Freedom, headed by Ambassador David Saperstein, a brilliant person who champions the principle
of religious liberty everywhere, including places where people are in danger each day
simply because of what they believe or who they are. In addition, we reach out to multilateral
institutions. Our acting envoy to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Arsalan Suleman, is
engaged in comprehensive dialogue with members of that body on issues that include political
crises, economic development, refugee relief, human rights, and religious pluralism. And
finally, we are striving to enhance our training with the goal of having people in every single
one of our more than 240 embassies and consulates who can engage knowledgeably with religious
actors in the country where they are posted.

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