Critical debates are underway about the new public policy challenges that are emerging as a result of the resurgence of religion in international relations. These debates and the questions that drive them inspired the organization of an international conference and course at McGill University, on “Religion and Foreign Policy: The Challenge of Religious Pluralism.”

This project is an initiative of the Birks Forum on the World's Religions and Public Life in McGill’s Faculty of Religious Studies, in partnership with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (TBFF) “Faith and Globalization Initiative”. The goal of this project is to bring together scholars and practitioners to explore diverse religious, regional, and political approaches to the place of religion in foreign policy, with particular emphasis on issues related to religious freedom and the rights of religious minorities in international relations. The project draws together experts and participants from very diverse settings (Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America).

To raise awareness of the advances being made in understanding the global geopolitics of religion, will be hosting contributions from participants in the global religion and foreign policy conversation. Below, as the project progresses, you will find articles, interviews, and data visualizations relating to religious pluralism.


Religion as a Theme in Foreign Policy

“Religious freedom has a particularly well-established place in the family of human rights. It is widely regarded as one of the foundational rights in the development of the rights tradition.”  – Daniel Cere

    Religious Freedom

    “The history of colonialism and imperialism does not provide comforting precedents. A nation that has tortured and castrated Kenyan detainees might blush at lecturing Kenyans on human rights today. But, does that disqualify any moral stance indefinitely?” – Ian Linden

      Religion in Conflict and Post-Conflict Situations

      “When ‘new’ nation-states began to emerge from colonial domination, leaders of nationalist movements faced the problem of shaping a nationalist message that was more than just anti-colonialism and which would appeal to at least the majority of people living within the territory of the state for which independence was to be claimed or asserted. In many cases, religion proved to be the common denominator.” – Charles Keyes

        In the series


        Let's Talk about Religion

        Dr. Chris Seiple on why religion needs to be treated as a real factor for analysis by foreign policymakers.

        Freedom, Faith, and Foreign Policy

        Daniel Cere on the state of the debate over the role of foreign policy in advancing religious freedom.

        Religion & Diplomacy

        Ian Linden reflects on critical responses to championing religious freedom.

        Religious Freedom: The Diplomatic Dimension

        Anne Leahy, Canada's representative to the Vatican, on how Canadian foreign policy can help protect religious freedom abroad.

        Bringing Religion into Foreign Policy

        To promote religious freedom internationally, Canadian policymakers must first debate this principle at home, argues Robert Joustra

        What's Wrong With Promoting Religious Freedom?

        The U.S. State Department's new office of religious engagement begs the question: What forms of religion should be protected? Elizabeth Shakman Hurd considers the consequences.

        The Messy State of Religious Freedom

        Despite the challenge of defining and enforcing the right to freedom of religion, it would be wrong for Canada to stop trying, argues Jon Waind.

        Religion: Friend or Foe?

        We need to ask a different question if we hope to truly understand the role of religion in international relations, argues Peter Denton.

        Nation-building and Religion: A Q&A with Dr. Charles Keyes

        Dr. Charles Keyes on how religion and religious differences can strengthen rather than undermine political order.

        Russia's Political Orthodoxy

        Alicja Curanović on how the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church became political bedmates.