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Religion and the Cold War

A Global Perspective

Philip Muehlenbeck

Publication Year: 2012

The lines of armed conflict, and the catastrophic perils they portended, were shaped with shocking clarity in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Less clear is the role religious ideology played in the conflicts that defined the Cold War era. All too often, beliefs held sacred by some became tools to motivate action or create friction. In Religion and the Cold War, Philip Muehlenbeck assembles an international team of specialists to explore how religion informed the ideological and military clashes across the globe in the second half of the twentieth century.

Students and scholars will find in this volume a level of comprehensiveness rarely achieved in Cold War studies. Each chapter reveals that the power and influence of ideas are just as important as military might in the struggles between superpowersand that few ideas, then as now, carry as much force as religious ideology. As Muehlenbeck and his contributors demonstrate, no area of the world, and no religious tenet, was safe from the manipulations of a powerful set of players focused solely on their own sphere of influence.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

In the past decade, scholarship examining the ways in which religion has influenced the foreign and domestic policies of the United States, the Vatican, and to a lesser extent Western Europe during the Cold War has flourished to the point of establishing its own subgenre.1 Yet what is striking is the dearth of scholarship in the English language that focuses on the ways in which religion...

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Introduction: The Religious Cold War

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pp. xi-xxii

This is a book about religion in the Cold War, a subject once confined to the periphery of the historical imagination when it was noticed at all. Thankfully, neglect no longer seems to be the problem. Historians of the Cold War, and not just historians of religion in the Cold War, are acknowledging the importance of the topic more frequently and in greater numbers. International...

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1. An Early Attempt to Rip the Iron Curtain: The Pomak Question, 1945-1947

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pp. 1-17

According to the Churchill-Stalin “percentages agreement” of October 1944 in Moscow, Bulgaria would join the Soviet bloc, whereas Greece would become a part of the free world.1 The cynical way in which the Balkans were to be divided between the two spheres of influence was admitted even by British prime minister Winston Churchill himself, but during the last days of World...

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2. The Western Allies, German Churches, and the Emerging Cold War in Germany, 1948-1952

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pp. 18-43

At the end of the Second World War in Europe, few could have predicted just how quickly quadripartite cooperation would deteriorate. The priorities of the superpowers shifted rapidly away from punishing Nazis and coming to terms with the catastrophe of the war and moved toward fighting a new Cold War, which divided Europe and much of the world into opposing ideological,...

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3. From Sermon to Strategy: Religious Influence on the Formation and Implementation of US Foreign Policy in the Early Cold War

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pp. 44-64

In the late summer of 1953, thousands of balloons, each bearing a piece of religious literature or a Bible extract, took to the skies of Eastern Europe. Many thousands more would join them in the decade that followed. The balloons were hardly larger than those used at birthday parties, and yet they were...

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4. Hewlett Johnson: Britain's Red Dean and the Cold War

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pp. 65-87

Hewlett Johnson, widely known as the “Red Dean,” was a famous supporter of Communism from the mid-1930s to his death in 1966.1 Johnson served for five years as dean of Manchester Cathedral before being appointed dean of Canterbury Cathedral as the choice of Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald in 1929. The dean of Canterbury should not be confused with the archbishop...

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5. Rising to the Occasion: The Role of American Missionaries and Korean Pastors in Resisting Communism throughout the Korean War

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pp. 88-112

The Cold War is often perceived as a political conflict, an ideological competition, or a military tension between the Soviet Union and the Western world. Yet, in a recent study of the relations between religion and the Cold War, William Inboden argues that religion functioned both as a cause that could explain the rationale of the United States’ opposition to the Soviet...

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6. The Campaign of Truth Program: US Propaganda in Iraq during the Early 1950s

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pp. 113-138

Sensing the danger of the spread of Communism in the Middle East during the late 1940s and early 1950s, the US government worked hard to counter Soviet attempts to find and expand a breeding ground for its ideology. To influence the hearts and minds of people, US propaganda endeavored to expose the negative aspects of Marxism-Leninism in order to convince the Arab masses...

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7. Religion and Cold War Politics in Ethiopia

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pp. 139-157

For more than 1,500 years (AD 430 to 1959), the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was governed by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Egypt, which consecrated and appointed Coptic bishops to preside over the Ethiopians. The Coptic Church did not allow Ethiopians to be bishops of their own church. There were several attempts to get an Ethiopian national appointed as bishop,...

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8. Soviet Policies toward Islam: Domestic and International Considerations

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pp. 158-181

The Soviet Union commenced its history in 1922 under the direction of a political party devoted to the liquidation of religion.1 By late 1991, when the country collapsed, religion existed as a tolerated and even vibrant force in political and social life. How did such a radical transformation occur in the space of less than seventy years? Through the prism of Soviet policy...

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9. Bosnian Muslims during the Cold War: Their Identity between Domestic and Foreign Policies

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pp. 182-205

Although the Bosnian War of 1992–1995 posed a real threat to the physical existence of the Bosnian Muslims, it produced some important results in terms of their national development.1 The Bosnian Muslims entered the war as Muslims but emerged from it as Bosnjaci (Bosniaks).2 In September 1993, the Bosniak Assembly—349 Bosnian Muslim politicians, intellectuals,...

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10. Religion, Power, and Legitimacy in Ngo Dinh Diem's Republic of Vietnam

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pp. 206-228

That Ngo Dinh Diem’s South Vietnamese administration was bookended by violent conflicts with religious entities—the sect crisis in 1955 and the Buddhist crisis in 1963—suggests that religion was critical to his quest to establish power and legitimacy, and that religion may provide the key to understanding his ultimate failure. Many have claimed that Diem, a devout Catholic from...

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11. Brazil: Nation and Churches during the Cold War

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pp. 229-246

Brazil is the largest Latin American nation, with the second-largest Roman Catholic Church in the Americas. During the years of the Cold War, Catholics (as well as many Protestants and Pentecostals) came to oppose the authoritarian government that had overthrown the democratic government in 1964 and controlled the nation for the next twenty years. In this nondemocratic...

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12. Service with Body and Soul: The Institutionalized Atheism of the Security Service Officers in Communist Poland, 1944-1989

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pp. 247-274

This chapter examines religiosity in Communist Poland and evaluates the role of institutionalized atheism as part of the code of socialist morality. I focus primarily on the purest of the purest—the functionaries of the security service, designed to be the first solely atheist segment of Polish society. I argue that the regime’s materialistic, atheistic, and explicitly anticlerical doctrine, demanding undivided loyalty from its cadres, was in fact a kind...

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13. Political Islam, the Jamaat-e-Islami, and Pakistan's Role in the Afghan-Soviet War, 1979-1988

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pp. 275-295

As the decade of the 1970s neared its close, relations between the United States and Pakistan were seemingly at a historic low. The close strategic relationship between Washington and Islamabad had first been frayed by what Pakistan viewed as insufficient support from the United States during its wars with India in 1965 and 1971. Relations further soured after...


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pp. 297-299


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pp. 301-314

E-ISBN-13: 9780826518545
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826518521

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2012