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Borders of Faith Symposium Explores the Role of Religion in American Foreign Policy

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Pepperdine University Libraries, the Diane and Guilford Glazer Institute for Jewish Studies, and the Pepperdine Global Justice Program at the Herb and Elinor Nootbaar Institute on Law, Ethics, and Religion partnered to present a series of events in March on the role of religion in American foreign policy.

The conference, called “Borders of Faith,” brought together leaders of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths to explore how these faiths impact national relationships in the Middle East. Ambassador Tony Hall, executive director of the Alliance to End Hunger, presented the keynote speech on how religion has impacted his own career and how the power of religion can transcend political boundaries.

In addition, members of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative (AFPI) returned to Pepperdine for an interfaith discussion examining how Abrahamic faiths both interact with each other on an international level and affect American foreign policy. Arieh Saposnik, the Gilbert Chair in Israel Studies at UCLA, chaired “America, Faith, and the Middle East,” a discussion on America’s pivotal role in the interactions between Israel and its neighbors in leading dialogue between a Jewish state and Muslim-dominated countries.

Pepperdine professors Dan Caldwell, Russell Burgos, and David Simonowitz came together to explore how American military policy in the Middle East is impacted by the differing faiths it encounters, and the School of Law Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution moderated “Improving Interfaith Relations” as the final event of the conference. The event addressed informal efforts at joining religion with the political process in the Middle East and elsewhere. Representatives of the PACIS Project, professor Tim Pownall and Reverend Brian Cox, led by speaking on their work with the Straus Institute in faith-based reconciliation and Track II diplomacy.