Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bolton, Hanford Among Those Linking Religious Persecution to Terrorism

Here's today's "must read" story, the account from Baptist Press about Religious Freedom Day in Washington, D.C., and the theme stressed there by speakers John Bolton (our new ambassador to the U.N.) and John Hanford (the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom) that religious persecution is naturally linked to support for terrorism.


John Bolton --"It is a nearly 100 percent correlation -- I don't think it's accidental -- that countries that suppress human rights domestically, and particularly countries that have demonstrated extraordinary religious intolerance, are also among the states that are the principle state sponsors of terrorism, and have been for many years, and are states pursuing weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical, biological -- and the ballistic missile capabilities they need to deliver those weapons of mass destruction. "

While religious suppression, sponsorship of terrorism and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction "may sound like unrelated policies," it is intriguing "to see that regimes that engage in one of those practices tend to engage in all three," Bolton said. "I think as foreign policy practitioners, we have not paid enough attention to this correlation. There's some reason that regimes that are threats from the perspective of the global war on terror, regimes that are threats because of their effort to proliferate weapons of mass destruction are also so abusive in terms of religious liberty and human rights more generally. And that's the sort of thing that ought to engage the United Nations more."

John Hanford -- "Religious freedom deserves a central place in our foreign policy because religious persecution leads to the suppression of other human rights," Hanford said. "I would argue that respect for religious freedom is a very useful, diagnostic tool or a litmus test for a society's overall health..."