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Back to Paper Details
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From Religious Freedom to Religious Engagement: The Effects of Field Shifting on Human Rights Priorities

Foreign Policy
Gender
Human Rights
Evelyn Bush
Fordham University
Evelyn Bush
Fordham University

Abstract

This paper examines U.S. international religious freedom policy and the implications of its recent linkage to the national security sector through “religious engagement.” First, it examines the timing and policy success of the international religious freedom movement in the 1990s and the factors favoring the post-9/11 reframing of religious freedom as a national security concern. Second, the paper explores two sets of implications of this movement’s shift across fields of contention. First, in terms of transformation, as activists have shifted their venue from human rights to national security, the meaning of religious freedom is undergoing a shift in focus away from individual rights toward the rights of religious institutions. Second, in terms of social reproduction, the anchoring of religious freedom in the human rights and security fields reinforces the subordination of human rights abuses committed within religious communities to those committed by states or between-groups defined along sectarian lines.