A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush
On Sale: January 22, 2008
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Non-Fiction Religion | Non-Fiction Political
How did we go from John F. Kennedy declaring that religion
should play no role in the elections to Bush saying, "I
believe that God wants me to be president"?
Historian Randall Balmer takes us on a tour of presidential
religiosity in the last half of the twentieth century—from
Kennedy's 1960 speech that proposed an almost absolute wall
between American political and religious life to the soft
religiosity of Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society; from
Richard Nixon's manipulation of religion to fit his own
needs to Gerald Ford's quiet stoicism; from Jimmy Carter's
introduction of evangelicalism into the mainstream to Ronald
Reagan's co-option of the same group; from Bill Clinton's
covert way of turning religion into a non-issue to George W.
Bush's overt Christian messages, Balmer reveals the role
religion has played in the personal and political lives of
these American presidents.
Americans were once content to disregard religion as a
criterion for voting, as in most of the modern presidential
elections before Jimmy Carter.But today's voters have come
to expect candidates to fully disclose their religious views
and to deeply illustrate their personal relationship to the
Almighty. God in the White House explores the paradox of
Americans' expectation that presidents should simultaneously
trumpet their religious views and relationship to God while
supporting the separation of church and state. Balmer tells
the story of the politicization of religion in the last half
of the twentieth century, as well as the "religionization"
of our politics. He reflects on the implications of this
shift, which have reverberated in both our religious and
political worlds, and offers a new lens through which to see
not only these extraordinary individuals, but also our
current political situation.
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