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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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Harry S. Truman

Harry S. Truman

The Golden Rule President

(p.228) 7 Harry S. Truman
Religion in the Oval Office

Gary Scott Smith

Oxford University Press

Harry Truman is rarely considered one of America’s most religious presidents perhaps because most biographers have paid little attention to his faith and because of his use of vulgar language. Ample evidence indicates, however, that Truman’s faith was genuine and very meaningful and influenced him substantially. Simultaneously pious and profane, Truman had an unsophisticated understanding of Christianity and attended church irregularly, but he prayed daily for God’s guidance and knew the Bible well. Jesus’s example and teaching, especially His Sermon on the Mount, served as a basis for Truman’s personal and professional life, guided his political philosophy, and helped shape his domestic and foreign policies. Arguably no president used more religious rhetoric to promote American aims. Truman’s faith played a significant role in many of his domestic policies and strongly affected his foreign policy, especially his approach to the Cold War, efforts to achieve peace, and recognition of Israel.

Keywords:   Harry Truman, faith, political philosophy, religious rhetoric, Cold War, Israel, peace

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