American Protestantism and the Cold War
The Cold War — a time when the threat of nuclear holocaust hung over the world. For more than four decades, Communism and freedom, embodied by the superpowers of the USSR and the USA, vied for the hearts of men — and sometimes fought it out, via client states, in faraway mountains and jungles.
Behind the political and military struggle was an ideological battle, between godless Marxism on the one hand, and, on the other hand, Western values rooted in Christian principles. Surely there would be no question, then, as to which side found the universal support of the Church.
However, in reality, the picture is far more complex than what might appear at first blush. For during the Cold War, many Protestant denominations and churchmen adopted a position of moral equivalence toward the superpowers — or, in some cases, even favored the leftist regimes. Foundational to such behavior was a commitment to a social gospel that often found expression in socialism and pacifism.
An overview of American Protestantism, then, reveals a spectrum of beliefs and attitudes — from those who favored a Communistic approach and criticized American foreign and military policy, to those who embraced a typical American patriotic position, to those who critiqued both Russian and American officials for being in opposition to genuine freedom.
On Thursday, March 25th, at 7:00 PM, the Circa History Guild will host a presentation by Dr. Frank J. Smith — a program that will range widely over the connection between religion and diplomacy. You will be treated to a discourse on how American Protestants reacted to and were shaped by global politics from 1946 to 1991, and how that interaction reflected their theological and ideological presuppositions.
There is a $5.00 admission charge for those who are not members of the Circa History Guild. The Guild is located at 8480 Holcomb Bridge Road, Alpharetta, Georgia 30022. From Holcomb Bridge Road, turn south on Ellard Drive and then right into the shopping center. The Guild is on the far side of the parking lot. Its phone number is 678-352-1775.
Frank J. Smith, Ph.D., D.D., a minister in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, is the Stated Supply of North Atlanta Reformed Presbyterian Church. He is the Founding Editor of Presbyterian International News Service and teaches at Georgia Perimeter College. His doctorate is from City University of New York, where he took a course on the Cold War taught by Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Dr. Smith authored The History of the Presbyterian Church in America: The Silver Anniversary Edition, and co-edited (with Dr. David C. Lachman) Worship in the Presence of God.