About Me

Lauren Turek - Photograph by Shane LinI am a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Virginia and a dissertation completion fellow at the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis. I am in the process of finishing my dissertation, currently entitled “To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelicals, Human Rights, and U.S. Foreign Policy, 1969-1994,” which illuminates the complex and deeply significant ways in which religion and religious groups interacted with foreign policy, political culture, and the international human rights regime to shape America’s role in the modern world. In my dissertation, I examine the growth and influence of Christian foreign policy lobbying groups in the United States beginning in the 1970s, assessing the effectiveness of Christian efforts to attain foreign aid for favored regimes and to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on those nations that persecuted Christians and stifled evangelism. Critically, I gauge the effect that evangelical involvement and American policy had on society and politics in Guatemala, South Africa, and the Soviet Union. These case studies reveal the extent of Christian influence on American foreign policy, the outcome of these policies on the ground, and the seemingly paradoxical support that evangelicals lent to repressive authoritarian regimes in the name of human rights.

In addition to my research, I have designed and taught courses at the University of Virginia on the history of Religion in U.S. Foreign Relations in the Twentieth Century and the History of the United States since 1865. I have served as a teaching assistant for courses in international history and the history of American foreign relations, society, and politics. I also have professional experience in public history, museum exhibit design, and instructional technology.