The Importance of Religious Freedom in a Critical Election Year

May 29, 2024

RFI’s Miles Windsor recently wrote an article for Newsweek on the prioritization of international religious freedom (IRF) in this year’s elections in the United States and United Kingdom. Windsor explains how religious freedom is necessary to respect human dignity and promote flourishing societies. For those reasons, it contributes to a strong policy agenda. He writes:

Seriously formulated IRF policy has the potential to enjoy broad support and to contribute to a peace and stability that’s so desperately lacking. Some might be surprised by this proposition, either because it is seen as a fringe issue or because anything containing the word “religion” must by definition be divisive and controversial. However, if rightly understood and properly prioritized, it is a universal cause for peaceful coexistence, and it has implications for a wide array of primary policy concerns.

At its core, religious freedom is about liberty and human dignity. It does not inherently promote one specific set of beliefs, or any one religious identity, over another. It defends the essential human instinct to pursue ultimate truth, to live freely in accordance with our convictions without any form of coercion or harassment. Religious freedom is done a disservice if it is represented as a uniquely American, Republican, Christian interest. It is not a partisan concern, and it must not be misappropriated by Left or Right to advance domestic cultural specifics.

Religious freedom is a humanitarian matter impacting everyone. Apart from paranoid authoritarian dictators, and cultural Marxists looking to eradicate religion and free thought, everyone else benefits from a society in which they are at liberty. In a world that is plagued by belligerent disunity on matters of culture, values and identity, freedom and peaceful coexistence are surely principles we should fight for at home and promote abroad.

Religious freedom is one important foundation stone in flourishing societies. Nations that persecute or fail to defend their diverse religious communities cannot establish meaningfully democratic, and more broadly, rights-affirming governments. They are unreliable international partners for trade and security. Such nations become breeding grounds for extremism that thrive in instability, or they represent threats in their own right to the peace and liberty of their global ideological and commercial competitors. That insecurity spreads across borders destabilizing whole regions, and it contributes to the challenge of mass migration.

Read the full article: “The Importance of Religious Freedom in a Critical Election Year.”