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Faith and the PresidencyFrom George Washington to George W. Bush$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195300604

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300604.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
Faith and the Presidency

Gary Scott Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Religion and politics have been deeply intertwined throughout American history, and there is a long and rich tradition of both scholarly and popular analysis of American presidents. Although numerous books explore the presidents’ personal piety and use of civil religion rhetoric, few books or articles examine, or even suggest, that their religious convictions influenced their public policies and performance as our nation’s chief executives. This book provides an in-depth analysis of the religious convictions and practices of eleven presidents who lived in different historical eras and had different denominational backgrounds. It focuses on those chief executives for whom religion was an important issue because of their own beliefs, the issues they confronted, the elections they participated in, and/or the times in which they lived. In evaluating the faith of these eleven presidents and the role of religion in their administrations, five themes are emphasized: the nature of their convictions, the separation of church and state, civil religion, America as a chosen nation, and the issue of character.

Keywords:   character, church and state, civil religion, chosen nation, faith, public policies, religious convictions

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