Matthew S. Hedstrom F'19

Matthew S. Hedstrom
Associate Professor
Religious Studies and American Studies
University of Virginia
last updated: 7/17/2019

ACLS Fellowship Program 2019
Associate Professor
Religious Studies and American Studies
University of Virginia
The Religion of Humanity: Spiritual Cosmopolitanism, Politics, and the United Nations

“The Religion of Humanity” chronicles the contested religious meanings of the United Nations—as a dream, a dread, and an institutional reality—in US culture, politics, and religion in the post-World War II period, situating that history in the longer history of ideas about world government and the “religion of humanity.” Conceptually, the book explores religious debates over cosmopolitanism and nationalism across the twentieth century. Extensive archival research reveals as never before the religious motivations, activism, and ideas of elite and popular actors as they grappled with the UN and all it represented. Moving from Washington and New York to grassroots organizations and everyday people in the United States, the narrative braids together accounts of the mystic UN, the prophetic UN, and the occult UN as imagined by utopian visionaries, liberal internationalists, and Christian nationalists.