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Religion and the Cold War
A Global Perspective

Editor(s): Philip E. Muehlenbeck

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 superpowers—and 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.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The Religious Cold War
Andrew Preston

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

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

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

Hewlett Johnson: Britain's Red Dean and the Cold War
David Ayers

Rising to the Occasion: The Role of American Missionaries and Korean Pastors in Resisting Communism throughout the Korean War
Kai Yin Allison Haga

The Campaign of Truth Program: US Propaganda in Iraq during the Early 1950s
Ahmed Khalid al-Rawi

Religion and Cold War Politics in Ethiopia
Wudu Tafete Kassu

Soviet Policies toward Islam: Domestic and International Considerations
Eren Murat Tasar

Bosnian Muslims during the Cold War: Their Identity between Domestic and Foreign Policies
Aydın Babuna

Religion, Power, and Legitimacy in Ngo Dinh Diem's Republic of Vietnam
Jessica M. Chapman

Brazil: Nation and Churches during the Cold War
Iain S. Maclean

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

Political Islam, the Jamaat-e-Islami, and Pakistan's Role in the Afghan-Soviet War, 1979-1988
Zahid Shahab Ahmed

Biography of Editor(s)

Philip E. Muehlenbeck is a Professorial Lecturer in History at The George Washington University. He is the author of Betting on the Africans: John F. Kennedy's Courting of African Nationalist Leaders and editor of Religion and the Cold War and Race, Ethnicity, and the Cold War.


  • "...Religion and the Cold War is an essential contribution to religious history, history of the Cold War, and twentieth-century international history."
    --H-Net Reviews
  • "Religion and the Cold War is an admirable collection"
    --Journal of Interdisciplinary History
  • "I highly recommend this book."
    --Journal of Church and State
  • "Religion and the Cold War is a crucial reminder that religion shaped the international context of the Cold War for both the United States and the Soviet Union in the decades following World War II. A much-needed collection of essays, this volume demonstrates that nations who resisted the two superpowers often did so through religious organizations and religious visions of their own national communities."
    --David Zietsma, Redeemer University College
  • "This is an ambitious and stimulating volume that reflects two of the most important trends in the recent study of the Cold War: the role of religion in its development, and its global nature. Bible-bearing balloons launched into the German wind, the surprising relationship between the Soviet state and its four Central Asian muftiates, tensions between South Vietnam's Catholic leadership and the majority Buddhist opposition--these episodes, and many more, add an exciting and essential new dimension to the history of this vital era."
    --Andrew J. Rotter, Colgate University, author of Hiroshima: The World's Bomb