By Gregorio Bettiza
Finding Faith in Foreign Policy: Religion and American Diplomacy in a Postsecular World (Gregorio Bettiza)

Since the end of the Cold War, religion has become an ever more explicit and systematic focus of US foreign policy across multiple domains. US foreign policymakers, for instance, have been increasingly tasked with monitoring religious freedom and promoting it globally, delivering humanitarian and development aid abroad by drawing on faith-based organizations, fighting global terrorism by seeking to reform Muslim societies and Islamic theologies, and advancing American interests and values more broadly worldwide by engaging with religious actors and dynamics. Simply put, religion has become a major subject and object of American foreign policy in ways that were unimaginable just a few decades ago.

In Finding Faith in Foreign Policy, Gregorio Bettiza explains the causes and consequences of this shift by developing an original theoretical framework and drawing upon extensive empirical research and interviews. He argues that American foreign policy and religious forces have become ever more inextricably entangled in an age witnessing a global resurgence of religion and the emergence of a postsecular world society. He further shows how the boundaries between faith and state have been redefined through processes of desecularization in the context of American foreign policy, leading the most powerful state in the international system to intervene and reshape in increasingly sustained ways sacred and secular landscapes around the globe.

Drawing from a rich evidentiary base spanning twenty-five years, Finding Faith in Foreign Policy details how a wave of religious enthusiasm has transformed not just American foreign policy, but the entire international system.

  • Offers the most comprehensive explanation to date of why and how religion has become a systematic subject and object of U.S. foreign policy, since the end of the Cold War to the Trump Presidency.
  • Focuses on four distinct religious foreign policy frameworks: International Religious Freedom, Faith-Based Foreign Aid, Muslim and Islamic Interventions, and Religious Engagement
  • Identifies how changes in American foreign policy are affecting religious landscapes globally and influencing policy agendas internationally


Bettiza’ Finding Faith in Foreign Policy is a much needed contribution to the much neglected studies of religion in world affairs. With theoretical creativity and careful historical analysis of recent American foreign policy, Bettiza analyzes how forces of secularization and desecularization combined, in a period of religious resurgence, to push American foreign policy elites to rethink its relationship to faith.” Michael Barnett, University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science, George Washington University”


Gregorio Bettiza’s Finding Faith in Foreign Policy is the first systematic and comprehensive analysis of the religious policies of the United States: from the International Religious Freedom Act onward. It is a must for scholars and students of diplomacy and religion.” Jocelyne Cesari, Professor of religion and politics, University of Birmingham and Georgetown University”


With Finding Faith in Foreign Policy, Gregorio Bettiza provides the most systematic and theoretically rigorous analysis to date of the recent growing interest in religion within American diplomacy. By identifying an emerging sequence of ‘religious regimes’ within US foreign policy over the past two decades, he is able to highlight points of broad thematic continuity across Republican and Democratic administrations alike, even when they were divided by sharp political and operational discontinuities. Essential reading for anyone interested in the intersection of religion and contemporary diplomacy.” Peter Mandaville, Schar School of Policy & Government, George Mason University”


Book Awards

  • Honorable Mention, International Studies Association Religion Section Book Award 2021
  • Honorable Mention, International Studies Association Religion Section Book Award 2020
  • Special Mention of Excellence, European Academy of Religion Alberigo Award 2019

Book Reviews

  • “Much-needed contribution to the field…Bettiza’s creative theoretical approach presents a multi-layered lens with profound explanatory power.” Ashlyn W. Hand, Journal of Church and State, 2021
  • “big book with an important argument: ambitious, erudite, and presented with great clarity. Students of religion, foreign policy, and world politics will be thinking with it, and contesting it, for many years to come.” Daniel J. Levine, Religion, 2021
  • Finding Faith in Foreign Policy broadens our understanding of the relationship between religion and politics.” Alexandra Domike Blackman, Perspectives on Politics, 2021
  • “Few studies … systematically analyze the connections between faith-based groups and US foreign policymaking. Finding Faith in Foreign Policy works to fill this gap, shedding light on the complex relationships between religion and US foreign policy initiatives.” Nukhet Sandal, International Studies Review, 2021
  • “An enduring summation of trends within the American foreign policy bureaucracy from the Cold War’s end to our current, unstable period of international order.” David Buckley, International Studies Review, 2020
  • “The book triggers important debates and paves the way for future research on the emergence of foreign policy regimes in other countries as well as their effects on the international politics of religion.” Anne Jenichen, Politics, Religion & Ideology, 2020
  • “Gregorio Bettiza’s fine account of the infusion of religion into the American diplomatic establishment is not only a welcome venture, but also a pioneering one”, James Guth, Politics, Religion & Ideology2020


Book related Videos, Podcasts, Articles

  • Book launch, LSE IDEAS, the London School of Economics and Political Science with Michael Cox and Katerina Dalacoura (17 October 2019)
  • Book launch, University of Exeter, with Jeffrey Haynes, Anne Jenichen, and Michael Dumper (25 September 2019)

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019


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