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If Secretary of State John Kerry were heading to college today, he'd study comparative religion. "That's how integrated it is [into] everything," he remarked in August.

Redoing college isn't an option for Kerry, who studied political science at Yale. But he's serious about religion. Kerry didn't waste any time launching the State Department's faith-based initiatives office just months into his appointment. To lead the office, Kerry selected his friend Shaun Casey, a professor of Christian ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary.

"My understanding is, in that first meeting, Kerry leaned over to a staff member and said, 'Let's get Shaun in here,' " said Casey, who grew up in the Church of Christ and previously coordinated evangelical outreach for President Obama.

Appointed through the end of Obama's term, Casey will be the first adviser to the secretary of state on the religious dimension of foreign affairs. He told ct that his new office will advise the secretary, help diplomats engage people of various religions, and teach faith-based groups to bring their views to bear on U.S. foreign policy.

Diverse groups from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs to the International Religious Freedom Roundtable have been suggesting such an office for years. In 2012, a white paper from the Interagency Working Group on Religion and Global Affairs made recommendations that appear to have been used as a blueprint for the office.

Before this summer, the State Department had its own Office of International Religious Freedom and worked with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent advisory body. It also had an ambassador-at-large for ...

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December 2013

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