Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945–1960

The Soul of Containment

by William Inboden

The Cold War was in many ways a religious war. Presidents Truman and Eisenhower and other American leaders believed that human rights and freedom were endowed by God, that God had called the United States to defend liberty, and that Soviet communism was evil because of its atheism and enmity to religion. Along with security and economic concerns, these religious convictions helped determine both how the United States defined the enemy and how it fought the conflict. Meanwhile, American Protestant churches failed to seize the moment. Internal differences over theology and politics, and resistance to cooperation with Catholics and Jews, hindered Protestant leaders domestically and internationally. Frustrated by these internecine disputes, Truman and Eisenhower attempted to construct a new civil religion to mobilize domestic support for Cold War measures, determine the strategic boundaries of containment, unite all religious faiths against communism, and to undermine the authority of communist governments abroad.
  • Cambridge University Press; August 2008
  • ISBN: 9780511421464
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF format
  • Title: Religion and American Foreign Policy, 1945–1960
  • Author: William Inboden
  • Imprint: Cambridge University Press

In The Press

'Inboden understands both foreign policy and religion, a rare combination. In addition, he does not condescend to evangelicals, gets John Foster Dulles right (no easy task, given the stereotypes of the dour puritan) and even gets Reinhold Niebuhr right (no easy task either, given Niebuhr's murky prose). This is an essential book for historians of recent foreign policy and students of the contemporary religious scene.' Leo Ribuffo, George Washington University