Letter to Sec’y of State Clinton

This letter, drafted by the United States Institute of Peace – Working Group on Religion and Peace, was sent to Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, as well as Kurt Donnelly, Joshue DuBois, Gayle Smith, and Ambassador Carson.

May 18, 2009

Dear Secretary Clinton,

We represent a diverse group of American scholars and practitioners who have pioneered in the last fifteen years an area of research and practice that engages peacebuilding, conflict resolution, and the world’s major religions. This combined experience and research yields significant practical lessons regarding a broad range of challenges the Administration will face in areas of conflict or potential conflict.

Religious representatives and institutions are vitally important as contributors to international peacemaking and diplomacy. In our work with partners abroad we have witnessed both the potential and the reality of peacemaking that actively engages religious cultures across the globe. This is particularly true in countries where religion has been a contributor to the conflict. Unfortunately, policy makers in Washington have generally been slow to recognize the potential for religious peacemaking. But we would be happy to share some of our positive experiences with you that may substantially aid your efforts to resolve or avert conflicts.

Based upon our experience, we urge the Obama administration to include more local religious figures and institutions in its efforts to bring peace and stability to places like Israel/Palestine/Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, and Afghanistan. Resources also need to be provided to American organizations that are promoting peacemaking that engages religious people and their cultural values. Over recent years several sectors of the American government, such as the Pentagon and State, have been engaged, on ad hoc basis, with many of us, but the engagement has lacked consistency, depth, and high-level commitment. We urge you to change that reality by recognizing at the highest levels that religions and religious people must take part in the efforts to engage successfully places of conflict in the world today. We propose an “Inter-religious Council for Peace” to help guide government efforts in this realm.

We stand ready to assist in whatever ways would be helpful in advancing this critically important endeavor.


Working Group on Religion and Peacemaking

Gerald Serotta

Clergy Beyond Borders

Marc Gopin

George Mason University

Mohammed Abu Nimer

American University

Ari Alexander

Independent Consultant

Joyce S. Dubensky

Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding

Robert Eisen

George Washington University

Charles P. Gibbs

United Religions Initiative

Robin Gulick

Virginia Theological Seminary

Susan Hayward

U.S. Institute of Peace

Karin von Hippel

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Qamar-ul Huda

U.S. Institute of Peace

Azhar Hussain

International Center For Religion and Diplomacy

Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana

American University

Yehezkel Landau

Hartford Seminary

Joseph Montville

George Mason University

RWB Ruffin

Initiatives of Change International

David Smock

U.S. Institute of Peace

David Steele


William Vendley

Religions for Peace


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