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US announces doctrine of religion for foreign policycomment (0)

October 4, 2012

US announces doctrine of religion for foreign policy

President Obama on Sept. 25 gave a forceful speech at the United Nations in which he challenged much of the world’s assumptions about free speech and religion.

Here are five points from his address which together add up to as close to an Obama Doctrine on Religion as we have seen:

  • Blasphemy must be tolerated, however intolerable

The idea that the U.S. protects even vile speech, so ingrained in American culture, seems counterintuitive to much of the world. Obama argued that restrictions on speech too often become weapons to suppress religion — especially the rights of religious minorities.

“Given the power of faith in our lives and the passions that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech,” Obama said.

  • Religious respect is a two-way street

Obama went on the offensive: If you are going to denounce intolerance against your own religion, he said, you also must call out those who demean the religion of others.

“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam,” the president said. “Yet to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see when the image of Jesus Christ is desecrated, churches are destroyed or the Holocaust is denied.”

  • Turn the other cheek

In the wake of riots across the Muslim world sparked by the anti-Muslim film “The Innocence of Muslims,” Obama called violence an illegitimate reaction to offensive speech, religious or otherwise.

“There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.”

  • One nation under God

Obama drew on the religious diversity of the U.S. to make his case for tolerance abroad.

“We are a country that has welcomed people of every race and religion. We are home to Muslims who worship across our country,” he said. 

  • The danger of extremism

The democratic movements sweeping the Arab world could be derailed by intolerance rooted in religious difference, Obama warned. He made the preservation of the Arab Spring a global responsibility.

“It is time to marginalize those who — even when not resorting to violence — use hatred of America or the West or Israel as a central principle of politics,” he said. “For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes excuses, for those who resort to violence.”  


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