The defense of religious freedom around the world is a U.S. foreign policy initiative upheld by successive administrations since the passing of the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). Supported by various religious constituencies that advocate for the freedom of religion of like-minded individuals across borders, the U.S. government engages with foreign governments, human rights groups, and NGOs to preserve an individual’s right to freedom of religion or belief. Their results, however, are mixed, especially in diverse contexts where religious rights are deeply contested. This paper explores the advocacy effort in response to the Government of India’s crackdown on the inflow of foreign funds to NGOs, many of which are faith-based. Using the revocation of the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) license of faith-based NGO Compassion International as a case study, this paper finds that U.S. involvement in defense of religious freedom meets counter-narratives. These counter-narratives include the preservation of state sovereignty, the protection of national interest, and the privileging of religious tolerance over religious freedom.
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