INAF-481 Religion, Justice, & American National Security
Spring for 2015-2016
U.S. foreign policy has always been influenced by religion and religiously-informed moral judgments concerning justice and national security. Since the early days of the Republic religion – both here and abroad -- has had an impact on American understandings of the nation’s role in the world. The idea of American exceptionalism, for example, has been molded in part by purely secular views of America's role in the world, but also by religiously-informed understandings of American responsibility, or, as some would have it, American superiority. In the 19th century, to take another example, U.S. relations with the Holy See were heavily influenced by domestic Protestant and Jewish views of Catholicism.
During the late 20th and early 21st centuries the involvement of religious groups in foreign affairs, especially in advocacy for human rights and religious freedom, has in many ways intensified. More broadly, evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel and, particularly after 9/11, American Muslims, have had a varied and sometimes significant impact on our foreign policy.
Interestingly, the “secularization theory” has long held that religion will diminish with the advance of modernity. In fact, religious actors, ideas, movements and communities have become major factors on the international stage, a development with enormous implications for American national interests. Religion has fed terrorism and freedom, authoritarianism and democracy, persecution and reconciliation. The spread of public manifestations of religious belief, what some scholars have labeled “political theology,” present particular challenges for U.S. foreign policy.
This course will study the impact of religion on U.S. foreign policy and American national security. Part One will examine how views of religion in the modern West, the American founding, and U.S. history have influenced the nation’s conduct of foreign affairs. Part Two will explore selected topics in American religion and foreign policy, including U.S. missionary movements and the issue of proselytism, trafficking in persons, human rights, and religious freedom. One session will be devoted to recent presidential understandings of the proper relationship between religion and politics and how those understandings might affect foreign policy and national security.
Part Three will turn to religion in the international order and how it affects America’s responses to the major foreign policy issues of the day, including the growing challenges posed by China, what was once thought to be an Arab Awakening, Islamist terrorism, and the rooting of democracy.
Cross listings requested: INAF, MSFS, Government
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Spring '16: Farr (file download)
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