Center for Religion & Diplomacy, Inc.

Making Faith Part of the Solution

aka International Center for Religion & Diplomacy (ICRD)   |   Washington, DC   |


The mission of the International Center for Religion & Diplomacy (ICRD) is to bridge religious considerations with the practice of international politics in support of peacemaking.

Ruling year info



Mr. James Patton

Main address

1003 K Street NW Ste 400

Washington, DC 20001 USA

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NTEE code info

International Peace and Security (Q40)

Promotion of International Understanding (Q20)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Religious convictions are a principal source of values for nearly 85% of the global community. As such, they can be a significant factor in promoting divisiveness and enmity—or in building the trust needed to overcome the conditions driving violent conflict. Because the influence of religious, ethnic and tribal identities is frequently stronger than that of governments, the challenge of resolving conflict and violent religious extremism (VRE) often exceeds the reach of traditional diplomatic or military intervention. ICRD addresses this reality by employing a unique range of capabilities that effectively engage the belief systems and core values found at the heart of identity-­‐based conflicts. It also maximizes programmatic impact by integrating its work with other peacemaking efforts, particularly those of governments.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Pakistani Women Countering Extremism

Recognizing the crucial role women play in both reducing and fueling violent extremism around the world, ICRD has developed a network of Pakistani women civil society leaders and religious educators from girls’ madrasahs (religious schools) who are working to implement countering violent extremism (CVE) initiatives in their community. Through this project, ICRD has trained four teams of women on CVE tools and practices to enable them to design and implement local initiatives in four cities across the country, which have reached over 200 individuals to date. This effort has not only empowered these women to increase their role in the community, it has fostered collaborative relationships between religious and nonreligious leaders and connected Pakistani participants with mentors and partners in the U.S., establishing the groundwork for an international network.

Population(s) Served

In 2014, the government of Yemen collapsed under the strain of intense internal conflict, which provoked a regional military response, a massive humanitarian crisis, and widespread community instability. In the midst of this challenging environment, ICRD has been working with the U.S. Institute of Peace and local Yemeni partners to strengthen the capacity of religious and civil society actors to resolve local conflicts and counter violent extremism. By enhancing the capacity of conflict resolution practitioners, this project aims to reduce the operating space and influence of extremist groups such as Al Qaeda, who purport to establish law and order. Building on the lessons learned from our training, participants have gone on to develop and implement a number of initiatives that address the drivers of violence and extremism at the community level. ICRD’s 2017 publication, Empowering Yemeni Peacebuilders: The Intersection of Conflict Resolution and CVE, offers a systematic overview of that work with personal reflections from those impacted by the work on the ground. In the next few years, ICRD will expand this program to engage additional religious leaders and civil society partners.

Population(s) Served

In light of the growing threat of violent religious extremism in the Middle East and North Africa region, ICRD has been exploring innovative strategies to counter the appeal of Jihadi-Salafi groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda. Through field research in Pakistan, Yemen, Tunisia, and Morocco, ICRD has been critically examining the role played by conservative religious actors – who often possess unique influence with and access to those at-risk of radicalization – in countering violent extremism. This research draws on the perspectives of Salafi and other conservative religious actors (imams, religious students, educators) from across some of the areas that have been at greatest risk for recruitment into extremist groups, such as the south of Yemen and poverty-ridden urban areas in Tunisia and Morocco. Beginning in August 2017, ICRD published a series of reports that collectively outline recommendations to national and international policymakers and practitioners on how to more effectively integrate a range of religious actors and institutions into future CVE initiatives.

Population(s) Served

To support the international effort to dissuade and deter youth from joining groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, ICRD has collaborated with US and transnational organizations to create a replicable and transferable model for training religious and civil society actors to lead community-based CVE programs together. In the summer of 2017, this model was piloted in North Africa, with a small group of 16 civil society actors – religious scholars, youth activists, and women religious actors – from communities with demonstrated risk of recruitment to extremist groups. Participants were trained on international best practices in analyzing the drivers of extremism in their community, developing targeted programming, and utilizing a range of relevant community engagement skills. Based on this training, participants have developed their own local projects, which will serve as an example for replicating this model in many other contexts.

Population(s) Served

Following the overthrow of a long-standing dictatorship in 2011, the Yemeni government began a delicate political transition. The process failed to overcome challenges with certain political interest groups, leading to a spiral of violence that has left the country in chaos. In an effort to understand how this transition could have been conducted more effectively and inclusively, ICRD began a study of Yemen’s southern governorates, which have been the site of multiple political and religious insurgencies. In 2014, in partnership with local researchers, ICRD conducted surveys with over 400 southerners to assess their attitudes toward Yemen’s 2013 National Dialogue Conference, in addition to various aspects of the political transition and prospects for future stability. The findings of this study – along with recommendations for ensuring a more inclusive transition process in the future – were published in a 2016 report, titled, A Fractured South: Addressing Separatism and Other Challenges Amidst Yemen’s Political Tumult. Drawing on these recommendations, ICRD has developed a program to strengthen the political inclusion of Yemeni communities in anticipation of future dialogues, and to facilitate reconciliation between divided factions.

Population(s) Served

Beginning in 2015, ICRD has been working with a network of Pakistani religious actors from across all major Islamic sects to develop a locally-informed response to the pervasive sectarian prejudice that has divided Pakistani society and fueled numerous extremist movements. Working in concert with indigenous partners, ICRD brought together prominent religious stakeholders from the Deobandi, Salafi, Barelvi, and Shi'a communities, who collaboratively designed a “Narrative of Sectarian Reconciliation” that identifies and refutes the most prevalent and divisive beliefs about other sects. To build support for that shared narrative at the community level, and foster inter-sect tolerance, ICRD has trained and mobilized local religious leaders from each sect. These advocates have written numerous articles and conducted dozens of local programs to disseminate this unified message of inter-sect harmony in major cities in Punjab, Sindh, and KPK. Their efforts are supported by inter-sect groups of respected religious leaders who can mobilize rapidly, as needed, to address flashpoints of sectarian conflict.

Population(s) Served

On behalf of the U.S. State Department, ICRD began a program in 2011 to monitor and support the efforts made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to remove the inflammatory content from their national curriculum, as well as to begin tracking the global spread of Saudi textbooks. Our initial review of the entire 2012 curriculum was the most comprehensive evaluation conducted to date and established a baseline to measure future improvement. Our findings confirmed that the Kingdom has made laudable progress toward reform, but that much remains to be done to fully complete the task. A second, thorough review of the high school curriculum is currently underway to assess the reforms made to the textbook content so far and make recommendations for further improvement. As part of the current review, ICRD will also begin to assess the impact that these materials have had when exported to other countries, from North Africa to Southeast Asia to Europe. In 2017, President Emeritus Dr. Douglas Johnston testified before the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade on the status of Saudi educational reform efforts.

Population(s) Served

Colombia has suffered a century of extreme violence, which has left profound scars of mistrust, retribution, and social marginalization. In this climate, ICRD has been working to integrate a framework for social reconciliation into the efforts of the Government of Colombia’s Agencia para la Reincorporación y Normalización (ARN) to improve the sustainable reintegration of former combatants into the society and reduce the driving factors for recruitment into criminal activity. To date, ICRD has trained over 50 female religious peacemakers in conflict analysis and reconciliation practices who, in turn, have trained 300 more in eight conflict-impacted regions. ICRD has also hosted dozens of local community workshops with faith leaders and government leaders in three pilot regions on pluralist peacemaking and reconciliation, and launched locally-designed and led pilot engagements on reconciliation with communities and reintegrating combatants. ICRD’s next step in this project is to conduct reconciliation between demobilized fighters and victims of violence, and pairing them to conduct reconciliation activities in communities slated to receive large numbers of former combatants. Finally, the generation of new employment opportunities will greatly increase social acceptance and facilitate the disengagement of former fighters from criminality and conflict.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

ICRD is not a religious organization. It is an organization that deals with religion. As such, it engages with religious actors, institutions and beliefs in facilitating collaborative problem‐solving to address violent conflict. These processes are integrated with political interests in a manner that seeks to draw upon their shared values. By building relationships of trust, ICRD steers religious convictions away from fomenting conflict and toward strengthening communities in their ability to resolve current and future challenges to peace. ICRD achieves its mission by meeting four core objectives:

• Decreasing religion's role as a driver of conflict;
• Increasing the capacity and number of religious peacemakers;
• Increasing the role of religious clergy and laity in peacemaking;
• Increasing policy-makers' awareness of and receptivity to the
potential contributions of religious peacemakers.

ICRD applies the following strategies to achieve the above listed objectives:

• Promoting spiritual values that delegitimize violence and
• Advancing the field of peacemaking practice by integrating the
contributions of religious actors;
• Facilitating resilient community networks for preventing and
resolving conflicts;
• Expanding the capacity of civil society to support faith-­‐based

Additionally, ICRD develops the following program methodologies, orchestrates their application in the field, and analyzes their effectiveness:

• Strengthening the roles of both male and female religious
adherents, across generations and traditions, in conflict
resolution and countering violent religious extremism (VRE);
• Enhancing themes of tolerance in religious education
curriculums and pedagogy;
• Identifying and leveraging shared spiritual values to support
collaborative problem-solving and faith-based reconciliation;
• Facilitating the cooperative development of counter­‐
narratives to VRE;
• Formulating faith-based conflict resolution frameworks in
concert with local partners;
• Training other prospective local trainers in applying faith-
based methodologies.

• Determining context-specific roles for religious stakeholders
in the resolution of conflict & VRE;
• Codifying best-practices for engaging religious stakeholders in
mitigating violent conflict;
• Mapping identity-based conflicts and how they are
contributing to particular cases of instability.

By combining innovative and traditional approaches, ICRD has developed a set of unique capabilities and methodologies for conducting faith‐based diplomacy to promote reconciliation and resolve differences. Included among these capabilities are:

• Identifying and applying faith doctrines that inspire empathy
and reconciliation;
• Engaging excluded and ideologically divided communities in
constructive conversations;
• Facilitating relationships of trust and identifying new areas for
• Conducting conflict analysis, particularly where religious
considerations are salient;
• Reinforcing contemporary conflict resolution techniques with
faith-based practices.

ICRD Accomplishments
October 1, 2016 – September 30, 2017

Pakistan: ICRD launched two new projects in Pakistan in 2016, one to prevent and mitigate sectarian violence and the other to empower women in countering violent extremism. On the first, ICRD is (1) facilitating development of a locally-informed counter-narrative, to address the religious beliefs that are being manipulated to drive sectarian conflict, (2) training “advocates" to give it life, and (3) recruiting Rapid Response Teams to defuse sectarian tensions before they turn violent. Regarding the second program ICRD has brought together female civil society activists with leaders of girls' madrasas (religious schools) from across Pakistan to identify drivers of radicalization in their communities and develop effective initiatives to address them.

Yemen: Despite a protracted civil war and foreign air strikes, ICRD has been able to train more than 300 Yemeni participants (including 87 women and 97 youth) in countering extremism and intolerance in their communities. The Center also completed a field study that determined how excluded, marginalized communities in the South of Yemen could be included in any future National Dialogue process.

Engaging Conservative Religious Leaders: Building on a successful pilot effort in Pakistan, ICRD is mapping government and civil society strategies in Yemen, Tunisia, and Morocco aimed at countering the influence of Jihadi-Salafism. In doing so, the project will also determine how best to engage conservative, non-violent religious leaders in the development and implementation of such strategies.

Morocco: Partnering with Creative Associates International, ICRD launched a new project in 2016, aimed at building the capacity of religious and civil society leaders in Morocco to counter violent extremism in their communities. In response to a request by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), this project will serve as a training model for replication in other Muslim-majority countries.

Saudi Arabia: For the past five years and with State Department backing, ICRD has been facilitating educational reform in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Last month at the request of the Saudi government, that engagement was extended for an additional two years. The eventual goal is to equip Saudi youth with an appreciation for diversity that will enable them to compete more effectively in the globalized market place, including an enhanced understanding of and commitment to tolerance and critical thinking.

Colombia: ICRD is working with the country's religious and indigenous spiritual leaders and its formidable network of women peacemakers to promote reconciliation that will support the effective re-integration of former combatants into civil society. The next phase of programming will reconcile women former fighters with women peacemakers, and send teams consisting of both to promote reconciliation in those communities preparing for reintegration.


Center for Religion & Diplomacy, Inc.

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Center for Religion & Diplomacy, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 11/4/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Mr. Harold Jacobi

Jacobi & Associates, P.A.

Board co-chair

Mr. James Stanley

Quasar International LLC

David Allen

Quasar Group, Inc.

Douglas Johnston

ICRD, Founder & President Emeritus

John Kiser

William and Mary Greve Foundation

Bob McEwen

Freedom Quest International

Abdul Aziz Said

American University; Center for Global Peace

David Vander Mey

The Quantum Group, Inc.

William Thomas

MacDonald Realty Group

Deborah Fikes

World Evangelical Alliance

Thomas McDevitt

The Washington Times

Edwin Meese

The Heritage Foundation

Robert Murray

The CNA Corporation

Richard Poirier

Prudential Securities, Inc.

Joe Reeder

Greenberg Traurig

James Stanley

Quasar International LLC

Joseph Donovan

Stradley Ronon

Conrad Fischer

Brookdale Hospital

H.P. Goldfield

Albright Stonebridge Group

David Lightfoot

Rights & Resolution Advocates

James Patton

ICRD, President/CEO

Daniel Pincus

Quantic Group

Frank Roby


Steven Thompson

Zilis, LLC

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 11/02/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.


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Gender identity
Sexual orientation
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Disability status
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Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

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