God Bless America: Religion and the Making of US Grand Strategy

Hosted by the LSE IDEAS

Shaw Library, Old Building, LSE, United Kingdom


Dr Gregorio Bettiza

Dr Gregorio Bettiza

Dr Katerina Dalacoura

Dr Katerina Dalacoura


Professor Michael Cox

Professor Michael Cox

This event will explore the ways in which religion has become a subject and object of American foreign policy, and will be based on Gregorio Bettiza's new book, Finding Faith in Foreign Policy: Religion and American Diplomacy in a Postsecular World.

Since the end of the Cold War, religion has become an ever more explicit and institutionalised focus of US foreign policy across multiple domains. From the 1990s onwards, new offices, appointees, strategies and initiatives have been put in place to: monitor religious freedom and promote it globally, draw on faith-based organisations to deliver humanitarian and development aid abroad, fight global terrorism by seeking to reform Muslim societies and Islamic theologies, and engage with religious actors to solve conflicts and crises around the world. Simply put, religion has become a systematic subject and object of American foreign policy in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago.

These changes raise a number of puzzling questions. What explains this growing attention, sustained across multiple different administrations (Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama, and now Trump), given to religion in US foreign policy? In what ways are the boundaries between religion and state, faith and politics, being redefined by these foreign policy changes? What are the global effects of the growing entanglements between the sacred and the foreign policy of, arguably, still the most powerful state in the international system today?

Gregorio Bettiza is Senior Lecturer and Director of the MA in International Relations at the University of Exeter. His research focuses on the role of ideas and identities in world politics, with a particular emphasis on religion and civilizational identities. He received his PhD in International Relations in 2012 from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), funded by the LSE IDEAS Stonex Scholarship, and was Max Weber Postdoctoral Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence, Italy between 2012-14. Gregorio has also held Visiting Fellowships at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC in 2011 and 2017. His new book, Finding Faith in Foreign Policy: Religion and American Diplomacy in a Postsecular World, was recently published by Oxford University Press (2019).

Katerina Dalacoura is Associate Professor in International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her latest research focuses on the role of culture and civilization in International Relations with special reference to Turkey.

Michael Cox is Director of LSE IDEAS and Emeritus Professor of International Relations at LSE.

LSE IDEAS (@lseideas) is LSE's foreign policy think tank. We connect academic knowledge of diplomacy and strategy with the people who use it. 

Event hashtag: #LSEBettiza

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