LAWRENCE — Andrew Preston, senior lecturer in American history at Cambridge University, will speak at the Hall Center for the Humanities on “Religion in American War & Diplomacy: A History.” The talk is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 28, in the Hall Center Conference Hall, and is free and open to the public. The event is sponsored by the Hall Center for the Humanities and is co-sponsored the departments of History, European Studies and Religious Studies.
A small seminar session, open to faculty, staff and graduate students, will take place the next day. Preston will address “Religious Imperatives and America’s Role in the World” at 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 29, in Hall Center Seminar Room 1. This session is part of the Hall Center’s Peace, War, & Global Change Seminar.
Based on his recent book, “Sword of the Spirit, Shield of Faith,” Preston's lecture will trace in broad outline the historical relationship between religion and American foreign relations, and use two case studies by way of example.
From the first colonists to the presidents of the 21st century, religion has always shaped America's relationship with other nations. Despite the official division between church and state, the presence of religion in American foreign policy has been a constant. Yet aside from leaders known to be personally religious, such as George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Woodrow Wilson, few realize how central faith has always been to American governance and diplomacy — and indeed to the idea of America itself.
Andrew Preston is senior lecturer in American history and a Fellow of Clare College at Cambridge University, where he also serves as editor of The Historical Journal. He is the author of “The War Council: McGeorge Bundy, the NSC, and Vietnam” (Harvard University Press, 2006) and co-editor, with Fredrik Logevall, of “Nixon in the World: American Foreign Relations, 1969-1977” (Oxford University Press, 2008). In addition to articles in scholarly journals, he has written for the Toronto Globe & Mail, History Today, the Boston Globe, Religion & Politics, Politico, the TLS and ForeignAffairs.com.