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State Dept. Tries to Raise Visibility of Religion

Often accused of ignoring religion as they craft foreign policy, the White House and State Department are trying to show that religion is a rising priority for U.S. diplomacy.

The most recent case in point: Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Istanbul last week (July 15) promoted a new U.S.-backed international agreement to protect freedom of speech and religion, an accord described by her department as a "landmark" change.

"These are fundamental freedoms that belong to all people in all places," Clinton said, "and they are certainly essential to democracy."

Elsewhere in the State Department, its school for Foreign Service officers rolled out a new course last month on how diplomats can practice "religious engagement."

And the National Security Council is touting a new partnership with the White House Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, which represents a "renewed focus on the intersection of religion and foreign policy across the United States government," faith-based ...

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