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God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush by [Balmer, Randall]
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God in the White House: A History: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush Kindle Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Length: 260 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

How did personal faith go from something John F. Kennedy needed to distance himself from to something recent presidential candidates have been eager to embrace publicly? Balmer, an eminent historian and first-rate storyteller, recounts familiar material in a way that's fresh. He wisely suggests that genuine blame for misuse of religion in public rests with voters, not politicians. But a running quarrel with the religious right—unannounced in the title—seems the real raison d'être for this book, and many arguments and examples will be familiar to readers of the author's Thy Kingdom Come. Balmer marshals impressive evidence that the religious right arose in reaction to government interference with racist religious schools. But he often tends to overstate and sometimes omits key facts. Balmer traces the right's slow response to 1973's Roe v. Wade decision by quoting the Southern Baptist Convention's initial support of Roe, without noting that the takeover of that church by fundamentalists came later and largely over that issue. Most oddly, Balmer describes the war in Iraq as America's first aggressive military campaign in history. These eccentricities make the book feel agenda-driven, and render questionable even its many points of wisdom. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Balmer very readably chronicles the use of religion in presidential campaigns and political apologetics since John F. Kennedy’s campaign speech assuring voters that his Catholicism wouldn’t affect his presidential conduct at all. When pressed, Kennedy’s three immediate successors explained their actions by the Golden Rule, though Nixon and Ford also had preacher friends (Billy Graham for Nixon, Bill Zeoli for Ford) tender excuses. Carter used born-again status to woo voters wearied by the Watergate scandal, but he was no hypocrite; indeed, the sincerity of his concern for the national soul in his 1979 “Crisis of Confidence” or “malaise” address, which now seems clairvoyant, made him seem more pastor than president and sparked the aggressively political religious Right to (re)action. Subsequent campaigns and presidents have flaunted religiosity, but the agendas of religious politicos, especially the religious Right’s, remain unrealized after 30 years of hectoring. Religious journalist Balmer concludes a hitherto reportorial book by holding voters—but not the sensation-seeking media—ultimately responsible for America’s political immorality. Thus, an excellent historical précis ends in, at best, an incomplete explanation. --Ray Olson

Product details

  • File Size: 600 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Publication Date: March 17, 2009
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0012GTZCK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #572,264 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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