December 13, 2008
Texas Faith is a weekly discussion that poses questions about religion, politics and culture to a panel of religious leaders. This week's question is: Based on your studies and travels, what would you advise Hillary Rodham Clinton in her new job as secretary of state about the role religion plays in influencing politics and culture around the world? What trends or currents should she pay attention to as she tries to overcome the religion deficit in diplomacy? Here are excerpts from some of this week's answers:
Matthew Wilson, political science professor, Southern Methodist University: "Where religion is acknowledged as a force in world affairs, it is generally seen as an obstacle – root of terrorism, fomenter of group animosities, impediment to 'progress,' etc. While religion may under certain circumstances be any or all of these, it can also be an incredibly powerful force for positive social and political change. One need look no further than the Solidarity movement in Poland, the battle against apartheid in South Africa, or our own civil rights movement for confirmation. I would advise Secretary Clinton to be open to seeing religious forces and movements as allies, not adversaries, and to partner with them where appropriate to advance American foreign policy objectives."
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