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Beyond Religious FreedomThe New Global Politics of Religion$
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Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691166094

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691166094.001.0001

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Religious Engagement

Religious Engagement

(p.65) Chapter 4 Religious Engagement
Beyond Religious Freedom

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd

Princeton University Press

Since World War II, the promotion of American-friendly “free” religion abroad has been understood to benefit the rest of the world by saving it from religious and political tyranny. For decades, the United States has designed and sponsored religious reform projects to instruct religious individuals and groups abroad on how to be free, or at least freer, versions of themselves. This chapter explores the politics of US foreign religious engagement. It argues that while religious engagement does involve an attempt to strengthen US-friendly religious authorities and communities abroad, it is, at the same time, and more fundamentally, a project of religious reform, of transforming religions into what is understood to be better versions of themselves. It discusses three empirical focal points in the history of US foreign relations that illustrate this argument, beginning with American efforts to promote “global spiritual health” during the early Cold War.

Keywords:   foreign policy, religious freedom, United States, religious engagement, religious reform, Cold War

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