U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that religion is a vital part of foreign policy and understanding how the world works, pointing out that some extremes can push people into war and genocide, while others use religion to search for peace.
"We cannot understand the world if we fail to comprehend and honor the central role that religion plays in the lives of billions of people," Kerry said at Rice University in Texas on Tuesday, Voice of America News reported.
Kerry, a Roman Catholic, noted that religion impacts the world in fundamental ways, and can act as a positive or destructive force.
"It is part of what drives some to initiate war, others to pursue peace," Kerry said.
The Secretary of State turned his attention to the atrocities being carried out by the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and Syria, particularly in its treatment of religious minorities.
"They continue to kill Yazidis because they are Yazidis, Christians because they are Christians, and Shia because they are Shia," Kerry stated.
"Daesh is responsible for committing genocide against these groups in areas under its control," he added, using another acronym for IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL).
Back in March, Kerry finally decided to use the word "genocide" to describe IS' slaughter of Christians and other minorities, something which was praised by persecution watchdog groups.
"My purpose in appearing before you today is to assert that in my judgement, Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS] is responsible for genocide against groups in areas under its control, including Yazidis, Christians and Shia Muslims," Kerry said at the time.
"Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology and by actions — in what it says, what it believes and what it does."
Some voices, however, such as evangelical author and humanitarian Johnnie Moore, told The Christian Post back then that Kerry's declaration might not be aligned with the State Department and President Barack Obama's thoughts on the issue.
"I am encouraged by the fact that Secretary Kerry, in what appears to be on his own initiative based upon what has been said [in the media] and various sources, made this decision," Moore, a former Liberty University vice president, told CP.
"His decision was a controversial decision and is not totally supported within the State Department but he had the courage to make the decision, which I totally commend."
In other efforts, Kerry helped open a new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives within the State Department back in August 2013, aimed at reaching out to religious leaders and communities at home and abroad.
"I want you to go out and engage religious leaders and faith-based communities in our day-to-day work," Kerry told State Department workers at the time. "Build strong relationships with them and listen to their insights and understand the important contributions that they can make individually and that we can make together."