The Influence of Religion on Foreign Policy Decisions in Hawaii

Explore how religion has played a significant role in shaping foreign policy decisions in Hawaii from an expert's perspective.

The Influence of Religion on Foreign Policy Decisions in Hawaii

Religion and politics have always been intertwined, and this is especially true in the state of Hawaii. As a melting pot of different cultures and beliefs, Hawaii has a unique history when it comes to the relationship between religion and foreign policy decisions. From the arrival of Christian missionaries in the 19th century to the present day, religious beliefs have played a significant role in shaping Hawaii's foreign policy.

The Arrival of Christianity in Hawaii

The first major influence of religion on foreign policy in Hawaii can be traced back to the arrival of Christian missionaries in the early 1800s. These missionaries, mostly from New England, were determined to spread their religious beliefs to the Hawaiian people.

They saw Hawaii as a land of opportunity for conversion and set out to establish churches and schools throughout the islands. As Christianity gained a foothold in Hawaii, it also began to influence political decisions. The missionaries saw themselves as not only religious leaders but also as advisors to the Hawaiian monarchy. They used their influence to push for laws that aligned with their religious beliefs, such as banning traditional Hawaiian practices like hula dancing and polygamy.

The Annexation of Hawaii

In 1893, a group of American businessmen, with the support of the United States government, overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy and established a provisional government. This event was heavily influenced by religious beliefs, particularly the idea of manifest destiny – the belief that it was America's divine right to expand its territory. Many Americans saw Hawaii as a Christian nation that needed to be saved from its "heathen" ways.

This belief was used to justify the annexation of Hawaii by the United States in 1898. The idea of spreading Christianity and American values to the islands was a major factor in the decision to make Hawaii a U. S. territory.

World War II and the Role of Religion

During World War II, Hawaii played a crucial role as a strategic military base for the United States. The attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought the U.

into the war, and Hawaii became a hub for military operations in the Pacific. Religion once again played a significant role in foreign policy decisions during this time. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was seen by many Americans as an attack on Christianity and Western values. This fueled anti-Japanese sentiment and led to the internment of Japanese Americans living in Hawaii and on the mainland. At the same time, religion also played a role in shaping Hawaii's response to the war. The majority of Hawaiians were Christian, and many saw it as their duty to support the war effort.

Churches became centers for fundraising and support for soldiers, and religious leaders encouraged their congregations to do their part for the war.

The Rise of Tourism and Religious Tensions

In the post-war years, Hawaii experienced a surge in tourism, which brought with it new challenges when it came to religion and foreign policy. As more people from different cultures and religions visited Hawaii, tensions began to arise between different religious groups. One example of this was the controversy surrounding the construction of a Buddhist temple in Honolulu in the 1960s. Many Christians saw this as a threat to their dominance in Hawaii and protested against its construction. This tension between different religious groups has continued to be an issue in Hawaii's foreign policy decisions, particularly when it comes to issues like land use and development.

The Influence of Native Hawaiian Religion

While Christianity has had a significant impact on Hawaii's foreign policy, it is important to note the role of native Hawaiian religion as well.

Before the arrival of Christian missionaries, Hawaiians had their own spiritual beliefs and practices. These beliefs have continued to play a role in shaping Hawaii's culture and identity, and have also influenced foreign policy decisions. One example of this is the protection of sacred sites and cultural practices. Native Hawaiians have fought to preserve their religious beliefs and traditions, which has often clashed with development and tourism interests. This has led to debates over land use and conservation, with religious beliefs playing a significant role in these discussions.

The Present Day

Today, religion continues to influence foreign policy decisions in Hawaii.

With a diverse population that includes Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, and followers of native Hawaiian religions, there are often competing interests when it comes to issues like land use, development, and cultural preservation. Religion also plays a role in Hawaii's relationship with other countries. The state has strong ties with Japan, which has a significant Buddhist population. This has led to efforts to promote cultural exchange and understanding between the two countries.


In conclusion, religion has had a significant influence on foreign policy decisions in Hawaii throughout its history. From the arrival of Christian missionaries to the present day, religious beliefs have shaped the state's culture, identity, and relationship with other countries.

While there have been challenges and tensions along the way, religion continues to play a crucial role in shaping Hawaii's foreign policy decisions.

Suzette Osegueda
Suzette Osegueda

Certified gamer. Extreme travel fanatic. Award-winning web junkie. General zombie geek. Subtly charming tv trailblazer.

Leave Reply

All fileds with * are required