Religion in the Oval Office by Gary Scott Smith Oxford University Press, April 2015
"Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents" by Gary Scott Smith (Oxford University Press)WHAT IT'S ABOUT
Religion in the Oval Office looks at the religious lives of 11 presidents, from John Adams to Barack Obama. In this follow-up to his 2006 tome,Faith and the Presidency, Smith argues that a commander in chief's spirituality is crucial to understanding some of the executive decisions that have changed the course of history. "A president's religion matters," he writes, "because it often affects his policy choices."
In some of the cases Smith cites, the relationship between the two is strikingly direct. Harry Truman's decision to recognize Israel within minutes of its founding in 1948, for example, was born of his biblical belief that the Jews needed to have a Promised Land, Smith says. He relates that Truman was "deeply moved" by the declaration of Israel's chief rabbi, Isaac Herzog: "God put you in your mother's womb so you could be the instrument to bring the rebirth of Israel after 2,000 years."
TARGET D.C. AUDIENCE
Potential presidential contenders; campaign staffers; speechwriters; communications types; faith-advocacy groups; religious leaders; anyone with strong religious convictions who works in politics.