Opportunities and challenges for international religious freedom research to inform U.S. foreign policy


  • Jason Klocek


international religious freedom, foreign policy, FoRB promotion, policy, discrimination


The promotion of international religious freedom (IRF) has been a consistent foreign policy goal across the past four U.S. presidential administrations. The form and implementation of approaches to advancing IRF, however, have varied. This article explores these differences and their implications for how scholarship can inform government initiatives to protect and promote IRF. Particular attention is paid to the Trump administration’s expansion of IRF policy into the development space. On the one hand, that recent shift increased demand from certain departments and agencies for new data and analysis. On the other hand, those calls were also often ad hoc and uneven in nature as policymakers sought to quickly develop innovative ways to incorporate IRF into their programming. The article recommends that scholars can best respond to moments of policy change by remaining committed to nuanced, objective, and critical research that responds to empirically driven problems related to religious freedom and discrimination.