Increasing the effectiveness of religious freedom advocacy

A perspective from the U.S.


  • Eric Patterson


religious freedom, International Religious Freedom Act, human rights, United States of America, Department of State, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, academics, business, diplomacy


For the United States and its Western allies religious freedom is a fundamental right, inextricably linked to a variety of other notions of freedom. Although surveys indicate that citizens around the world aspire to some form of religious liberty, nonetheless it and other human rights are constrained for at least 60% of the world’s population. Since 1998 the U.S. has committed itself to championing the religious liberty of people around the world, but at the same time indicators by Freedom House and other organizations suggest the world is becoming “less free.” With this context in mind, the U.S. and its partners need to redesign a forward-looking strategy of religious freedom advocacy that includes, at a minimum, developing an academic sub-discipline of international religious freedom studies, engaging big business, and building partnerships with other governments.

Author Biography

Eric Patterson

Eric Patterson, Ph.D., is Assistant Director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University and visiting assistant professor in the Department of Government. His research and teaching focuses on religion and politics, ethics and international affairs, and just war theory in the context of contemporary conflict. He is the author or editor of eight books, including ‘Politics in a Religious World’ (forthcoming, 2011) and ‘Ending Wars Well’ (forthcoming, 2011).