When Secretary of State John Kerry launched the new Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives (OFBCI), he extolled the importance and urgency of religious studies: “In fact if I went back to college today I think I would probably major in comparative religion because that’s how integrated it is in everything we are working on, and deciding, and thinking about in life today.” The virtue and political utility of religious studies aside, some academics voiced critique and caution about how such an office might be haunted by political agendas, subjected to idealistic visions of liberal democracy, and premised on a particular concept of religion as an analytical category. Secretary Kerry appointed Dr. Shaun Casey to lead OFBCI. A professor of theology at Wesley Theological Seminary, Dr. Casey visited Emory University on February 6–7, 2014, and graciously granted a long interview with Sacred Matters. In this candid conversation with Emory’s Dr. Jim Hoesterey, watch Dr. Casey address the academic critiques, describe his intellectual and political influences, discuss OFBCI’s work thus far, and share his vision for the future role of religion and diplomacy at the State Department. Don’t miss part two, part three, and part four of our interview with Dr. Casey. Video production and editing courtesy of Emory University’s Center for Digital Scholarship.