"Foreign Policy and Religion: U.S. Foreign Relations with Israel," Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, March 2019.
ABSTRACT Religion has played a constant role in the United States–Israel relationship. Christian and Jewish interests have shaped U.S. foreign policy, especially after the rise of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The role of religion Israel has historically depended on three interlinking factors: the influence of domestic political considerations in the calculations of American policymakers, the prominence of the Middle East in U.S. diplomatic and strategic thinking, and the beliefs and attitudes of individual policymakers, both their own religious convictions and their assessment of how important religious beliefs are to the American people. Religion has alternately strengthened and strained the U.S. relationship with the Zionist movement and the state of Israel. At some moments, such as the 1930s, religious attitudes and prejudices worked against closer cooperation. At other times, such as the Israeli–Egyptian peace summit of 1978, religious forces played a prominent role. As a state with special religious significance for many Americans, Israel provides a window into how religion functions in U.S. foreign policy, how its function has changed over time, and how religion has acted as an independent variable in political and policy outcomes.
"His Land and the Origins of the Jewish-Evangelical Pro-Israel Lobby," Church History 87, no. 4 (December 2018): 1119-1151.
ABSTRACT The 1970 release of His Land, a religious documentary about Israel produced by Billy Graham’s film studio World Wide Pictures, took the evangelical world by storm. It was shown to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of churchgoers and encapsulated the mix of prophecy beliefs and cultural arguments that cohered a decade later into the Christian Zionist movement—a major component of the religious right. Surprisingly, American evangelicals were not the only fans of His Land. American Jews, led by the American Jewish Committee, helped make the film an international success. AJC officials organized ecumenical screenings and kept detailed records of the film’s reception, praising it as “an authentic interpretation” that “strengthen[s] the current interreligious discussion on the Middle East question.” By 1971, the AJC was showing this unabashedly evangelical film to Jewish audiences in synagogues and community centers. Through reconstructing His Land’s production and reception, this article provides a new interpretation of the origins of bi-partisan, Jewish and evangelical support for Israel in the late-twentieth century. It recasts the rise of a Jewish-evangelical pro-Israel lobby as an important religious episode for understanding the rise of the religious right and the continuing importance of confessional and theological identity even in the era of the “culture wars.”
“The Limits of Evangelical Nationalism during the Cold War,” in Paul Mojzes, ed., The North American Christian Community and the Cold War, pp. 104-117, W.B. Eerdmans Press, 2018.
ABSTRACT This chapter examines the relationship evangelicals constructed during the Cold War between the Church and revivalism on one hand, and the American state and nationalism on the other. My key argument is that during the Cold War, the "Church" as a theological concept held primacy over the state in evangelical thinking and informed the distinctive brand of Christian nationalism they developed in the postwar years. Evangelicals did not sacralize the state like Dwight Eisenhower's civil religion so much as reimagine the government – with its mix of separation, disestablishment, and support for religious organizations – as an instrument to further their principle concern: the defense and expansion of the Church in an age of global, atheistic communism. Evangelicals interpreted the Cold War through the lens of their inherited fundamentalist tradition, which divided the world into three categories: “the Church,” “Israel” and “the Nations." American evangelicals were at the heart of the “Church;” the United States was merely one of the nations; a blessed one, to be sure, and a special agent for the flourishing of the Church, but still, a nation among nations with little biblical or prophetic significance.
“Religious Pluralism, Domestic Politics, and American Evangelical Support for Israel,” in Andy Johns and Mitch Lerner, eds., The Cold War at Home and Abroad: Domestic Politics and US Foreign Policy since 1945, pp.100-118, University of Kentucky Press, 2018.
ABSTRACT This chapter offers a new perspective on the emergence of the Jewish and Christian Zionist coalition to support Israel in the 1970s through a religious and political analysis of the relationship between Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum (1925-1992) and evangelist Billy Graham (1918-). The bi-partisan, interreligious alliance captured in the Tanenbaum-Graham relationship—leaders of American Judaism and American evangelicalism in the 1960s and 1970s—highlight the role of religion in American domestic politics and the religious concerns that connected domestic and foreign policy. Increasing Jewish-evangelical cooperation on Israel had profound consequences for the U.S.-Israel relationship. This chapter reframes the “Israel lobby” as an interreligious coalition of disparate communities united in a common concern for the security of Israel. While rank-and-file Jews and evangelicals did not immediately follow their leaders, Tanenbaum and Graham helped lay the foundation for modern bipartisan support for Israel in later decades.
“Revivalist Nationalism after World War II: From ‘Wake Up, America!’ to ‘Make America Great Again’,” Religions 7, no. 11 (November 2016).
ABSTRACT Between 1945 and 1980, evangelicals emerged as a key political constituency in American politics, helping to form the Religious Right and work for the election of Ronald Reagan and other conservative Republicans. This article argues that they embraced a distinctive type of revivalist nationalism, centered around the mass revival. Case studies of Billy Graham, Bill Bright, Jerry Falwell, and Ronald Reagan offer a narrative of postwar revivalist nationalism and demonstrate that evangelicals renegotiated the relationship between personal salvation and national renewal during this period, facilitating their mass entry into partisan politics. Billy Graham presented in his early crusades an unsophisticated assumption that mass conversion would lead to national renewal. Later revivalists such as Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, sought to reorient revivalism toward directed political organization, leading in the 1970s to decreasing emphasis on personal conversion and increasing focus on the political process. By the 1980 presidential election, the Religious Right had completely abandoned the priority of personal conversion and sought instead to revive the “principles” of a Christian America. Ronald Reagan embodied this principle-oriented revival, and helped crystalize a revivalist nationalism that remains embedded in contemporary evangelical politics.
“A ‘Practical Outlet’ to Premillennial Faith: G. Douglas Young and the Evolution of Christian Zionist Activism in Israel,” Religion & American Culture 25, no. 1 (Winter 2015): 37-81.
ABSTRACT G. Douglas Young, the founder of the American Institute of Holy Land Studies (now Jerusalem University College), is a largely forgotten figure in the history of Christian Zionism. Born into a fundamentalist household. Young developed an intense identification with Jews and support for the state of Israel from an early age. By 1957, when he founded his Institute, Young developed a worldview that merged numerous strands of evangelical thinking—dispensationalism, neoevangelicalism, and his own ideas about Jewish-Christian relations—into a distinctive understanding of Israel. Young's influence in American evangelicalism reached a climax in the years 1967-1971. This period, and Young's activism therein, represents a distinct phase in the evolution of Jewish-evangelical relations and evangelical Christian Zionism. Young's engagement with the Israeli state prefigured the Christian Zionists of the 1980s. This article examines Young's distinctive theology and politics and situates them in intellectual and international contexts. It argues that Young sought to place Christian Zionism at the center of American evangelicalism after 1967 and that his effort was only partially successful. While Young spoke to thousands of evangelicals, trained hundreds of students, and sat on boards and committees to broaden the appeal of Christian Zionism, he also met stiff resistance by some members of the