A lot of hot air is devoted to American evangelicals’ work on domestic issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But what is an ‘evangelical foreign policy?’ Mark Amstutz, professor of political science at Wheaton College and author of “Evangelicals and American Foreign Policy,” is determined to answer that question. Here, we discuss the characteristics and shortcomings of evangelicals’ foreign policy.

RNS: When one thinks about American evangelicals and politics, their minds may rush to domestic issues such as abortion and gay marriage. But what are the common characteristics of an evangelical foreign policy?

MA: Evangelicals’ foreign policy concerns have been motivated by core moral values rooted in a Christian worldview. Such values include the inherent dignity of all human beings, the priority of social and political justice, the need for communal order, the demand for human freedom, the responsibility to care for the weak and the poor, the importance of personal responsibility, and the universality and transnational nature of God’s love.

Not surprisingly, evangelicals have been at the forefront of global humanitarianism through such initiatives as caring for refugees, promoting job creation through micro-enterprise loans, providing health care to the poor, and combating diseases such as HIV/AIDS.  Evangelicals have established some of the largest non-governmental relief and development organizations in the world and have played an important role in helping to pass legislation to combat human trafficking, facilitate a comprehensive peace in Sudan, highlight human rights abuses in North Korea, and even helped to bring about the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.

RNS: Many think of evangelicalism as a 20th century movement, but you say evangelicals were active in foreign affairs since, at least, the 19th century. How so?

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Written by Jonathan