External Governments and Multilateral Institutions
Next Page : Outside Churches and Christian Communities
- Do not succumb to the temptation to consider advocacy for human rights and religious freedom detrimental to the pursuit of “good relations”— something that governments like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, China, Vietnam, and Laos would like Western democracies to believe. Instead, insist that human rights and “good relations” are interdependent. For instance, use human rights and religious freedom as a means to bargain for political and economic gains.
- Stress the distinct importance of “religious freedom” and do not allow it to be swallowed up or watered down by broader terms like “religious engagement” in the planning, articulating, and carrying out of policy. While engagement with religious leaders and communities is valuable, what is at stake most centrally for persecuted Christians—and the societies in which they live—is religious freedom.
- Consistently raise religious freedom in discussions with violator countries to ensure they understand that outside governments see both human rights and religious freedom as basic to a harmonious international order and correlated with stability and prosperity.
- Be prepared to use both human rights language and appeals to self-interest (promoting peace and stability) when engaging with other states that are suspicious of or hostile to international human rights norms.
- With key economic powers such as China, always include human rights and religious freedom on the agenda for discussion and avoid the temptation to sacrifice them for the sake of furthering political or economic interests.
- Use approaches that are well suited to particular circumstances and to the interests of the target society. These “smart” interventions, ideally supported with a clear local mandate, are often the most effective.
- Make sure the impact on local persecuted churches is addressed in foreign policy or security decisions.
- Continue to put pressure on governments for better protection of religious freedom in countries such as Russia, where such pressure is widely felt among top officials.
- Governments and international organizations should make religious freedom a central theme in human rights evaluations of regions.
- Seize upon opportunities to build coalitions among religious minorities of different faiths who are the subjects of persecution and heavy discrimination, such as Ahmadis and other non-conformist Muslims in Indonesia, Muslims in China and India, or Jews in Europe.
- Determine if there are locally available social and ethical resources that can enhance local initiatives and also make international human rights norms more culturally relevant and thus effective—for instance, building bridges in Indonesia to the many Muslims who adhere to its tradition of plurality and multi-confessional citizenship.
- Provide training to ensure that officials handling relevant geographical areas and functional issues are “religiously literate” and specifically aware of how religious freedom is closely correlated with the achievement of key policy aims relating to stability, security, and prosperity.
- Lobbying by international coalitions and networks (for example, of legislators or religious freedom officials) often can have a much greater impact than lobbying by individual countries, especially if Global South countries are included.
- Governments can improve their credibility by “attending to their own backyard,” that is, improving religious freedom at home and acknowledging their own efforts to build religious freedom for minorities.
- Governments should create conditions that will allow Christians to stay in their homelands and provide help for Christians wanting to return to their homelands, but also accord them an appropriate proportion of slots for asylum if their desire is to emigrate.
- Governments should recognize that violations of religious freedom are a root cause of migrant crises, as is the case in Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Nigeria, and elsewhere, and integrate religious freedom into their advocacy on behalf of migrants.
- Governments should devote greater resources to helping their own citizens among migrant workers who face harassment on account of their faith, for instance, Filipinos in countries like Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
- Governments should only participate in inter-faith and similar initiatives, such as those promoted by Gulf princes and foundations, if the issue of persecution will be addressed as well