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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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 Dwight David Eisenhower, Dynamic Conservatism, and the Religious Revival of the 1950s

 Dwight David Eisenhower, Dynamic Conservatism, and the Religious Revival of the 1950s

Chapter:
(p.221) Chapter Seven Dwight David Eisenhower, Dynamic Conservatism, and the Religious Revival of the 1950s
Source:
Faith and the Presidency
Author(s):

Gary Scott Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195300604.003.0007

Dwight D. Eisenhower’s personal behavior, the mood of the 1950s, and shrewd publicity combined to make his administration seem more religious than those of most other presidents. Although the general did not join a church until the second Sunday after his inauguration, he is considered one of the most religious presidents in American history. Eisenhower attended church regularly, proclaimed national days of prayer, invited Billy Graham and other influential clergymen to the White House, and helped create an organization called the Foundation for Religious Action. Eisenhower maintained very cordial relations with most of the nation’s religious communities. The president met frequently with religious delegations, sent hundreds of messages to religious gatherings and groups, and spoke to numerous religious assemblies. His speeches contained more religious rhetoric than almost any other president’s, and he repeatedly called for a spiritual revival and a moral crusade to remedy the nation’s ills. While he was president, the highly publicized national prayer breakfasts began, the words “under God” were added to the Pledge of Allegiance, and Congress made the phrase “In God We Trust” the national motto. Rather than creating controversy about breaches of church-state separation, the Eisenhower administration’s significant interest in religion seemed to increase the public’s esteem and admiration for the man from Abilene. Inspired in part by his faith, Eisenhower promoted a “dynamic conservatism” that prodded voluntary organizations to combat economic and social problems and used the power of the federal government to remedy ills when their resources were insufficient. Eisenhower’s quest to achieve peace and his effort to ensure civil rights illustrate how his religious convictions influenced his presidency.

Keywords:   church attendance, civil rights, dynamic conservatism, Billy Graham, national prayer breakfast, peace, religious rhetoric, religious revival, separation of church and state

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