Is America’s Religious Soft Power Effective?

A Conversation with Peter S. Henne

January 27, 2021
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. EST
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

Religious soft power—the attempt to get other states to “want what we want” through religious outreach—is a recurring element of American foreign policy. Despite significant attention to U.S. religious soft power efforts, scholars and policymakers still struggle to understand whether they actually work. That is, has America been able to use religious soft power to advance its interests in the world?

Scholar Peter S. Henne joined Geopolitics of Religious Soft Power Director Peter Mandaville to discuss the role of religious soft power in the early Cold War. America used religious outreach to solidify anti-communist alliances around the world. While some of these efforts worked, others complicated America’s foreign policy positions. This provides lessons for policymakers on crafting religious soft power policies, as well as scholars on how to approach the impact of religion on power politics. This was the second in the Religion in Foreign Policy comparative series.

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