Religion, Race, and the American Presidency

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In a desperately tight race, a dispute over the Electoral College votes of South Carolina was resolved in favour of the Republicans after months of wrangling. The lesson was clear, though: elections can turn not just on the appeals of candidates but on who gets to vote. The ideological rift in American politics that emerged in the era of the New Deal in the s has never healed.

Few pundits thought Truman would win, but he battled away and, in the end, won by a tiny margin, in part by capturing Ohio — another battleground state this year — by less than one per cent of the vote. If there are two things that voters associate with Mitt Romney, one is his wealth, and the other is his Mormonism.

The base of the Republican party has had a hard time adjusting to a candidate with what many of them regard as un-Christian views. Some commentators in thought the United States was still not ready to elect a Catholic, remembering the vicious anti-Catholicism faced by Democrat Al Smith, who lost heavily in the election. Yet evangelical Protestants were less likely to vote for Kennedy than they were for other candidates of the same party.

When the dust settles on , the same may be shown to be true for Romney.

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History suggests that this is the harder sell: of the 31 elections in which incumbents have run for re-election, challengers have booted them out of office only 10 times. Historically, incumbents have struggled to be re-elected when the economy is struggling. But there are also less auspicious echoes of the election for Republicans.

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The change they seek is also a repudiation of many of the social changes of the last 50 years. If Americans decide not to swap horses while crossing a stream in it may be because they trust the president to navigate them through the economic troubles.

Political Party with Keli Goff: Religion and the presidency

Yet Mormonism is, perhaps, the most American of all religions, founded by an American citizen and based on a sacred text that tells the story of God's work in the Americas. As many question Romney's religious heritage, it would be enlightening to look at eight presidents whose religious lives have troubled and fascinated Americans, or whose faiths may surprise us even today.

How Religion is Shaping the Presidential Race | Pew Research Center

Andrew Jackson. Our first Presbyterian president, Jackson's religious life is noteworthy because he conscientiously refused to allow his religion to be a part of his office. Long before the Presidential Prayer Breakfast or the National Day of Prayer, Jackson was called on by members of Congress and influential religious leaders to call for a national day of prayer and fasting in response to a cholera epidemic. Jackson refused, stating that to do so would be to transcend "those limits which are prescribed by the Constitution for the President," and he feared that this religious encroachment could "disturb the security which religion now enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government.

James K. Like Jackson, Polk also was reared in a Presbyterian community, though he was never a member of the church and was never baptized as a Presbyterian.

US presidents: Race, religion and re-election?

The reason he was never baptized is that his father and grandfather were considered to be religiously suspect by the local Presbyterian church, "free-thinking radicals" who openly honored Deism and its proponents, like Thomas Paine. Polk's father refused to give a profession of faith, so Polk was not baptized until days before his death. This streak of independence, of not allowing others to dictate one's religion is certainly an American trait. Interestingly, Polk did have his own significant religious experience in a quintessentially-American way--at an open-air Methodist revival meeting where he "went away.

Out of deference to his wife's Presbyterianism, Polk waited until the week before his death to be baptized and confirmed into membership in the Methodist church, by the same pastor who had preached that open-air sermon years earlier. Abraham Lincoln. Even though he is considered one of the greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln likely would be neither nominated nor elected today: he never joined a church, publicly confessed a creed, nor publicly uttered belief in God's endorsement of his policies. One should read Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address, his "Meditation on the Divine Will," or his private letters in which he would declare simply, "The Almighty has his own purposes.

follow link He never claimed to be born again, he never claimed Jesus as his favorite philosopher, and he loved to tell ribald stories and poke fun at himself. Yet he clearly sought the will of God and divine direction during what he called the "butchering business" of the Civil War. Franklin D.

President Obama was not the first president to use the Gospels to justify social and economic policy. Bush Bill Clinton George W. Bush Barack Obama Donald Trump. Help inform the discussion Support the Miller Center. University of Virginia Miller Center.


Breadcrumb Presidential Ideas Festival Schedule Three days of panels, speakers, and lunch sessions explored our most important institution. Tuesday, May 21, a. Executive power and the U. Politics is easy. Baliles Professor, Miller Center moderator Why democracy?