Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars

Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars

Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars

Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars

Excerpt

Throughout U.S. history, Christianity has shaped public opinion, guided leaders in their decision making, and stood at the center of every contentious issue. One cannot study any period of time or major issue in American history without confronting Christianity’s effect. Religious sensibilities have had positive and negative influences, but they have always had an influence. The founding of the nation incorporated intense discussion about church and state, including a constitutional amendment to separate the institutions. The Civil War stemmed from a battle over slavery, which emerged in part from the abolitionists’ Christian calling to combat an immorality. Throughout two centuries, Catholic Americans struggled against Protestant hegemony and prejudice, discrimination that reached into political parties, immigration restrictions, and irrational fears of a papal conquest. Religious zeal led to the prohibition of alcohol and surrounded intense social debate about Darwinian theory. President after president has articulated a faith position and been sworn into office on a Bible. The list of important religious elements in the U.S. past continues infinitely. Historians must grasp the religious context of an era in order to gain complete knowledge about what transpired, why it happened, and how. Yet too little is known about the effect of American Christianity on foreign policy opinions during the Cold War and Vietnam War era. This book seeks to play a role in correcting this lacuna so that scholarship on the 1960s and 1970s more closely resembles the fullness of what we already know about other generations. Christianity influenced the culture war raging about foreign policy during this era, with many points of view adding a religious component to the debate.

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