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Religion and Altruistic U.S. Foreign Policy Goals: Evidence from a National Survey of Church Members

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Interest in the possible role of religion in shaping attitudes toward the U.S. foreign policy has increased significantly in recent years, but relatively few studies have been conducted. Drawing on a new national survey of church members, we examine the relationships of religious identity, religious involvement, and congregational programs to attitudes about the importance of altruistic foreign policy goals. We find no support for popular claims that evangelical Protestants hold particularly supportive attitudes toward international human rights and humanitarian aid policies. We find only modest support for the idea that attendance at worship services encourages people to be altruistic in a way that influences their views about foreign policy. However, we do find considerable support for the idea that congregations can shape members' views about foreign policy through intentional activities that raise awareness of needs at home and abroad.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Robert Wuthnow is a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. 2: Valerie Lewis is a doctoral candidate in the Office of Population Research and the Department of Sociology at Princeton, University., Email:

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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