The Role of Religion in American Exceptionalism and the Cold War

TLDR This episode explores the influence of religion on American exceptionalism and the Cold War. The separation of church and state in America led to the emergence of new religions and the Judeo-Christian tradition, which became embedded in American Cold War ideology.

Timestamped Summary

00:00 In this episode, the host and Professor Andrew Preston discuss the divergence between the United States and Western Europe in terms of religious beliefs and the role of religion in American exceptionalism.
03:23 The separation of church and state in America led to a lack of anti-clericalism and a marketplace of faith, resulting in the invention of new religions and the emergence of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the late 1930s.
06:41 Religion becomes embedded in American Cold War ideology, with Protestants, Catholics, and Jews being summoned to combat evil and the concepts of good and evil being rooted in a Judeo-Christian framework. The US has never been isolationist, but rather wary of political commitments to other countries, and the Cold War takes on a different flavor in America due to its religiosity.
09:57 The Cold War in America is different from other Western countries due to its overt religiosity, with religious values and imagery being at the heart of American identity and a big part of America's cause in the Cold War.
13:00 The Cold War in America had an impact on domestic religious interfaith relations, with the recognition of the state of Israel and the belief that promoting religion was a way to combat irreligion and aggression, leading to a tonal shift in the 1980s that influenced the rhetoric of George W. Bush.
16:26 Reagan revived the use of evangelical language in politics, particularly through his anti-communist rhetoric and his strategic use of religion as both a method and objective in trying to find a way out of the Cold War.
19:29 Reagan's lectures to Gorbachev about religious freedom and individual choice over religion during the Cold War reflect a Protestant notion and an argument for liberal democracy, which aligns with America's self-perception as a defender of what is good; however, the clash with Islam in the 21st century poses a challenge to America's crusader identity, exemplified by George Bush's "crusade" comment, which, although unintentional, reflects a historical context and resonance, while the evangelical language used by George W. Bush after 9/11 and the America first tendency of Donald Trump represent different aspects of American foreign policy.
22:41 George W. Bush and Barack Obama both emphasized the importance of religious tolerance and pluralism in American foreign policy, while Donald Trump, although not personally religious, still appealed to the religious right and used religious rhetoric to gain support.
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