By Rev. Jim CastroLang | SpokaneFAVS
I came to this book with much ambivalence. Why does the faith perspective of our presidents matter? In my clearheaded thinking, it should not matter. The United States of America is not a theocracy. In fact many of the founders and first European residents of this land were fleeing the controls of religion upon their country. Of course, in typical human hypocritical fashion, many of the original colonies were set up as semi-theocracies requiring allegiance to one particular denomination.
Despite my doubts, I found myself strangely curious about the faith of our presidents. This book is not intended to go into great depth, instead it is a survey from what the public record shows about the religiosity of each president. All presidents’ have appealed to religious imagery sometime during their term especially in inauguration addresses and speeches in times of deep crisis. It seems all presidents have seen the power of appealing to the religious imagination of the American people. Authors Darrin Grinder and Steve Shaw try to access when this emanates from a sincere personal faith. They look to church attendance, reading the bible (and quoting it) and other signs that they took faith seriously before, during, and after their White House years.
There is a struggle in our American discourse about whether we were founded as a Christian nation. Our freedom of religion has boundaries of protection between state and religion but what of our presidents? Did they protect this separation or did they encourage us to deepen our Christian roots?
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