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Ten Texan Evangelicals in Rome: Micro-history, Religion and the Cold War

Ten Texan Evangelicals in Rome: Micro-history, Religion and the Cold War
Francis Scott Key Room 2120
Wednesday, April 4, 2018 - 12:00 PM to 1:30 PM

Professor Mario Del Pero (Science Po, Paris) will be discussing the experience of the evangelical “Church of Christ” in Italy (which was part of a broader and global missionary crusade the Church of Christ launched in the immediate aftermath of World War II). He will talk about the first years the group spent in Italy, while contextualizing their experience within the early Cold War and its impact on Italian political and religious life. 

 

Micro-histories – in this case the fairly anomalous if not eccentric story of the Lilliputian mission of the “Church of Christ” in Italy – are not, and must not be, fragments to be contemplated in isolation from a context they are inevitably influenced by and illustrative of. Many actors were involved in the story and I will do my best to examine and highlight their position, role and agency: the missionaries, of course; their political supporters in the US, particularly Texan Representatives and Senators; the other protestant groups in Italy that, while having no theological sympathy for the American evangelicals, used the case to further the cause of religious freedom in Italy; the liberal and progressive Italian intellectuals who asked for a full implementation of the new Constitution and urged the courts to intervene; the Catholic Church and their main allies in the Italian government (particularly, but not exclusively, at the Ministry of Interior); US diplomats, in Rome and Washington, and their daunting effort to find a compromise, without appearing to interfere in Italy’s domestic affairs. The little story of the “Church of Christ” in the Castelli Romani becomes therefore a much larger story of US-Italian relations, of how religion can affect US foreign policy choices, of the Italian Constitution and the complex implementation of some of its most fundamental articles, of the political life in the new Italian Republic, of Catholic-Protestant relations, of the Vatican’s influence, in Italy, Europe and the United States. It’s a little story – in other words – which helps us making sense of the much grander Global Cold War.