The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, an acclaimed look
at the spiritual beliefs of such iconic Americans as Franklin,
Washington, and Jefferson, established David L. Holmes as a
measured voice in the heated debate over the new nation's religious
underpinnings. With the same judicious approach, Holmes now looks
at the role of faith in the lives of the twelve presidents who have
served since the end of World War II.
Holmes examines not only the beliefs professed by each president
but also the variety of possible influences on their religious
faith, such as their upbringing, education, and the faith of their
spouse. In each profile close observers such as clergy, family
members, friends, and advisors recall churchgoing habits, notable
displays of faith (or lack of it), and the influence of their
faiths on policies concerning abortion, the death penalty, Israel,
and other controversial issues.
Whether discussing John F. Kennedy's philandering and secularity
or Richard Nixon's betrayal of Billy Graham's naïve trust during
Watergate, Holmes includes telling and often colorful details not
widely known or long forgotten. We are reminded, for instance, how
Dwight Eisenhower tried to conceal the background of his parents in
the Jehovah's Witnesses and how the Reverend Cotesworth Lewis's
sermonizing to Lyndon Johnson on the Vietnam War was actually not a
left- but a right-wing critique.
National interest in the faiths of our presidents is as strong
as ever, as shown by the media frenzy engendered by George W.
Bush's claim that Jesus was his favorite political philosopher or
Barack Obama's parting with his minister, the Reverend Jeremiah
Wright. Holmes's work adds depth, insight, and color to this
important national topic.
Subjects: History, Religion
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