Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960: The Soul of Containment

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Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960: The Soul of Containment

By William Inboden
Cambridge University Press, 2008
368 pp. $80.00
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The American academy has been rediscovering the importance of religion in politics and foreign policy; Inboden's new book makes a vital contribution to this ongoing project by examining the ways in which both politicians and religious leaders grappled with the challenges of Cold War diplomacy. Presidents Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower, in Inboden's view, instinctively grasped the global and domestic importance of casting the Cold War as a struggle between religion and atheism. This focus put them at loggerheads with important currents in American Protestantism; one of the few convictions that liberal and conservative Protestants shared in the pre-Vatican II era was a deep suspicion of the Roman Catholic Church at home and abroad. Ultimately, the politicians prevailed over the theologians; the ecumenical civilreligious culture of Eisenhower's America represented a flattening out of theological differences in the interest of a common political vision. Ranging over subjects as diverse as the missionary influence in the China lobby and the political impact of the once-formidable Moral Rearmament movement, Inboden produces a stimulating and compelling picture of American religious and political life.