March 8, 2023

EP. 307 — What Happened To Separation Of Church And State? with Dr. Lauren Turek

A pastor, a president, and a foreign political leader step into a National Prayer Breakfast. What happens next? A whole lot of mingling between church and state. This week, Dr. Lauren Turek joins Jonathan to explore how evangelicals have influenced American politics—domestically and abroad—over the last half century. It’s a story of televangelism, missionary trips, and politicking of biblical proportions.

Lauren Turek is an associate professor of history at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX, where she teaches courses on modern United States history, U.S. foreign relations, and public history. She is the author of To Bring the Good News to All Nations: Evangelical Influence on Human Rights and U.S. Foreign Relations, published with Cornell University Press. Lauren is currently at work on a book about the Congressional debates and alliances that shaped U.S. foreign aid funding during the twentieth century and is co-editing a Routledge Handbook on the history of religion and politics in the United States.

You can follow Dr. Turek on Twitter @laurenfturek, on Instagram @laurenturek, and at

If you’re curious for more, Dr. Turek recommends the following:

Anthea Butler’s White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America

Kristin Kobes Du Mez’s Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation

Melani McAlister’s The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of Evangelicals

Jeff Sharlet’s The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power

Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation.


Jonathan is on Instagram and Twitter @JVN and @Jonathan.Vanness on Facebook.


Transcripts for each episode are available at


Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our associate producer is Zahra Crim. Our editor is Andrew Carson.


Our theme music is “Freak” by QUIÑ; for more, head to


Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness & Lauren Turek  JVN [00:00:00] Welcome to Getting Curious. I’m Jonathan Van Ness and every week, you know the drill. I sit down for a gorgeous conversation with a brilliant expert to learn all about something that makes me curious. Today’s episode? So fucking good. I’m joined by Lauren Francis Turek, where I ask her: How does the religious right shape U.S. foreign policy? Essentially, this is what happened: I was minding my own business and I saw this, like, church flyer about, like, a mission to Uganda. And then that made me think about, the religious right’s links to U.S. government and actually not even, like, the religious right, just, like, the evangelical community at large’s connection to government and legislation across the United States. That’s where this came from. And then you were minding your own business, being our guest this week, who’s fucking amazing, Lauren Frances Turek, who is an Associat

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