Religion in the American Experience

Evangelical Influence on U.S. Foreign Policy, 1970s-1990s

November 2, 2020

Evangelicals have been active and influential in all parts of the American experience. For this interview, the term “Evangelical” is defined as: believers who (1) have had a born-again experience resulting in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, (2) accept the full authority of the Bible in matters of faith and conduct of life, and (3) are committed to spreading the gospel by bearing public witness to their faith.

Their impact on U.S. foreign policy is large, fascinating and full of experiences with direct bearing on our politics today. This is especially true as Americans look abroad to the Middle East and China, two places where one, the United States has been actively engaged in the last several decades, and two, the culture is wrapped in powerful religious ideas very foreign to Christianity in general, and evangelicalism in particular.

Today we are grateful to have Professor Lauren Turek with us to discuss her book To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations. The case studies in her book detail the extent of Evangelical influence on American foreign policy from the late 1970s through the 1990s. Dr. Turek is an Assistant Professor of History at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She earned her doctorate in history from the University of Virginia in 2015, and holds a degree in museum studies from New York University as well as a degree in history from Vassar College. Dr. Turek is a specialist in U.S. diplomatic history and American religious history, and is currently at work on a second book project, which will explore congressional debates over U.S. foreign aid in the twentieth century. 

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