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Religion in the Oval OfficeThe Religious Lives of American Presidents$
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Gary Scott Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199391394

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199391394.001.0001

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Richard Nixon

Richard Nixon

A Private and Enigmatic Faith

(p.260) 8 Richard Nixon
Religion in the Oval Office

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

Richard Nixon was raised in a devout Quaker home, claimed to be converted to Christ as a teenager, attended church fairly frequently for much of his life, had a close relationship with Billy Graham, held worship services in the White House, and repeatedly stressed the importance of spirituality and morality. Nevertheless, while numerous scholars have discussed Nixon’s Quaker upbringing and its influence on his personality, few have paid much attention to the role religion played in Nixon’s political life, especially his campaign for world peace. His very private, complicated, perplexing personality makes Nixon’s faith hard to decipher. Nixon’s calculating, conniving, often ruthless conduct has understandably prompted extensive doubt about whether his religious profession was genuine. Nixon’s personality and actions as president lead many to view his extensive use of pious and moral language simply as a ploy to appeal to religiously-committed citizens, promote his policies, and win votes.

Keywords:   Richard Nixon, Quaker, Billy Graham, faith, peace

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