- Pathfinder

Reply To: Have you ever consciously or subconsciously used your faith to examine foreign policy? Was it harmful or helpful? Please elaborate.

Blake Seitz

It’s natural to examine foreign policy through the lens of faith, since faith provides a basis for thinking about the world, history, and human actors in foreign policy. Examples like ISIS show clearly enough that ‘faith,’ broadly speaking, can exert a harmful influence on foreign policy. However, faith also serves as a corrective to these very evils. Christianity’s insistence on the dignity of every person tells us WHY ISIS’s brutal rule is illegitimate and evil, though of course Christians do not have a monopoly on this view.

I’ve found my Catholic faith to be a helpful guide in examining foreign policy. It reminds me to open my eyes to the sufferings of other people, especially but not exclusively fellow Christians. It warns that humanity is fallen and perfection attainable only in the life to come, so that we should be realistic about what can be achieved by even the best-intentioned projects. It also provides a helpful though not perfect guide to which powers, at the risk of sounding simplistic, are ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The officially atheist, materialist regime in Beijing, which bulldozes churches and insists on installing Party-approved bishops? Bad–not merely for religious reasons but certainly because of such reasons. The faithful, tolerant, majority Catholic NATO ally Poland? Good–again, not merely on religious grounds, though it doesn’t hurt. Obviously, the United States has many vital partners and allies with whom we do not share a religion or culture; Saudi Arabia, Japan, and to a certain extent Israel spring to mind. But the bonds of religion do help in gaining trust and working together.