About IGE

About IGE

In our efforts to promote religious freedom, we operate at the intersection of thoughts and deeds. Words without action are worthless; action without thought is dangerous. Each must hone the other. Accordingly, IGE combines theory with praxis, thinking with doing.

History

In 2000, Bob and Margaret Ann Seiple—known as the "godparents" at IGE—felt called as Christians to steward a lifetime of experiences and relationships from all over the world. This feeling took particular form through their experience with the State Department, where Bob served as the first-ever U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom from 1998 to 2000. The Seiples were concerned that religious freedom was something everyone talked about but no one really knew how to operationalize, and that Christians were too often part of the problem. They founded IGE to address these issues, making Christ visible and Christians relevant as a result.

 

Structure

IGE’s three centers catalyze thought and action, promoting a practical and sustainable religious freedom that serves state and society worldwide.

The Center for Relational Diplomacy

Under the direction of IGE President, Dr. Chris Seiple, the Center for Relational Diplomacy (CRD) works in Central, South, and East Asia, as well as Africa and the Middle East. IGE's relational diplomacy is grounded in a commitment to first study, listen to, and understand the local context and then engage it. It seeks to create partnerships and practical agreements between governmental and religious communities that promote a culturally owned and legally protected religious freedom which contributes to social and political stability.

 

The Center on Faith & International Affairs

Under the direction of IGE Vice President for Research and Publications, Dr. Dennis R. Hoover, the Center on Faith & International Affairs (CFIA) equips scholars and practitioners of international affairs with the tools necessary to understand religion's impact on the world today. The Center publishes a groundbreaking quarterly journal, The Review of Faith & International Affairs, plus books, monographs, policy papers, and online resources. CFIA also sponsors scholarly and policy-focused conferences, lectures, research projects, and fellowships.

 

The Center for Global Education

Under the direction of IGE President, Dr. Chris Seiple, The Center for Global Education (CGE) prepares current and emerging leaders to engage global affairs in ways that promote sustainable environments for religious freedom. Currently CGE's signature program is its ongoing series of Global Leadership Forums. CGE also provides unique resources such as its online collection of syllabi.

 

 

Principles of Engagement

Know Him

1. Know your maker—seek to understand God's heart and make God's passions yours. Know your faith at its deepest and richest best, and enough about your neighbor's faith in order to respect it.

2. Sense God's timing. Practice patience. Be brave enough to engage without excuse, strong enough to refuse recklessness.

 

Know Yourself

3. Understand your strengths—and weaknesses—and how they impact your relationships. Do no harm.

4. Cultivate the characteristics of the Biblical metaphors for Global Engagement: the street-wise common sense of the snake, the gentle humility of the dove, the wise statesmanship of the ambassador.

5. Pray for the full armor of God. Be transparent, predictable, accountable, and responsible. Make hope tangible in the present. Take no credit. Give away learnings. Act incarnationally and establish the worth of the Gospel so that the truth might be revealed.

 

Know His World

6. This is God's world. God is deeply in love with it. We "plant and water," God brings the increase. We "prepare the horse for battle; but victory rests with the Lord." Let God keep score.

7. Know history—political and cultural, yours and theirs. Know all of the questions, not just some of the answers. Understand geo-political complexity and local nuance. But realize that God is already there ... recognize that the adjective "intractable" is an insult to a sovereign Lord.

8. Pray over the land. Pray for discernment to take place, for wisdom to reveal itself. Pray with intentionality. Pray specifically for key individuals involved.

9. Find partners. Who has been trustworthy, credible, persevering, and relevant? Build relationships that endure. "Whoever is not against us is for us." Remember, the Commandment to love was given before the Commission to go.

10. Act comprehensively. What is the art of the possible? Put yourself in everybody else's shoes . Develop a policy and a supporting strategy around objectives formed in faith. Continuously reassess both policy and concomitant strategy.

11. And remember: global engagement has a face. A difference is made, a plan is enacted, a transformation takes place one life at a time ... a life already made in the image of God.

RESPONDING TO INVITATION IGE places a unique emphasis on relationship with local partners. Whether compelled by external criticism or internal conflict, governments invite IGE to help them transition their countries into an environment where people of all faiths and none can live out their values peacefully.
building relationships Sustaining change comes only through understanding and trust. IGE engages in the deliberate, long-term process of listening, discerning interests and values, and then bridging gaps.
facilitating dialogue As trust is built, IGE establishes an ongoing dialogue between parties with deep differences. Building on shared interests, IGE helps move partners toward mutual understanding and joint ownership of step-by-step solutions.
creating constructive space IGE helps create a safe and accepted space where government and religious leaders can begin to compare religious freedom scholarship and models from around the world. Consensus begins to emerge around key ideas. IGE has held over 20 conferences in East Asia, Central Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa since 2004.
MAINSTREAMING KEY IDEAS IGE publishes the world’s first and only scholarly journal on the topic of religion and global affairs. As understanding of scholarship, policy options, the lessons of history, and common values deepens, leaders are equipped to make better decisions.
SERVING AS A TRUSTED VOICE Over time, IGE’s scholarship, counsel, and connections gain the confidence of governmental and grassroots leaders and IGE is trusted to speak broadly into the public arena. IGE’s conferences abroad have received TV and major press coverage, sending a signal to the provinces that it is “OK” to have these kinds of conversations. IGE has appeared on Pakistani One, Vietnam TV, Saudi TV, as well as CNN, FOX, and CBS.
TRAINING + EDUCATION IGE trains and educates local officials and religious leaders about international religious freedom norms, while reinforcing the dialogue between faith communities and the government. Such ongoing discussions deepen religious freedom, as well as the rule of law and good governance necessary for a democratic society to flourish. In three years, IGE trained over 3,500 government officials, scholars, and religious leaders in China, Vietnam, and Laos.
SUSTAINING CHANGE Changed behavior is unsustainable unless good policies, new laws, and the transparent rule of law protect and promote this behavior. Throughout East Asia, IGE is in practical discussion about how best to change ordinances and create laws that enable religious freedom for all faiths and none. Between 2006 and 2012, IGE signed eight agreements with three Communist governments.
BUILDING PEACE When governments protect and promote religious freedom as integral to the wellbeing of both state and society, mutual bonds of trust, commitment, and respect result—providing the basis for enduring peace. IGE often suggests to governments that “seminary is security”: The more trained pastors, priests, monks, imams, etc., the better citizens the state will have, citizens who serve the common good by serving each other.