American exceptionalism, missionary politics, and the religious impulse in contemporary foreign policy attitudes
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] This dissertation offers an examination of the effects of religion and its attendant moral politics on attitudes towards foreign policy issues. America's religious tradition supposedly engenders a set of attitudes that predispose individuals to engage in moral politics. The analysis of the data suggests that religion's impact on mass foreign policy attitudes is relatively limited in scope. There is relatively little evidence that the foreign policy attitudes of ordinary Americans are structured by their religious affiliations or level of religious commitment. Religion does structure Americans' views of themselves as a chosen nation, but does not extend to missionary politics. Indeed, contrary to the received wisdom Americans possess very little appetite for spreading American ideals and values around the world, and religion does not appear to be a factor in their desire (or lack thereof) to promote democracy or human rights in other countries. The findings also suggest that fears of American Exceptionalism run amok are overwrought. Attitudes regarding American Exceptionalism do little to structure or condition opinion and attitudes on foreign policy issues, apart from humanitarianism where exceptionalist beliefs drove support for armed interventions to stop genocide or to relieve humanitarian crises. The results suggest that to the extent that a religious impulse and exceptionalist beliefs animate the American people, it tends to be passive rather than evangelistic.
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