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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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 Theodore Roosevelt and the Bully Pulpit

 Theodore Roosevelt and the Bully Pulpit

(p.129) Chapter Four Theodore Roosevelt and the Bully Pulpit
Faith and the Presidency

Gary Scott Smith (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

To many, Theodore Roosevelt was an exemplar of manliness and “muscular Christianity” and an exceptional public servant who led a crusade for social justice. To others, the sage of Oyster Bay was a jingoist, a nativist, a hot-tempered, unpredictable manic, and an egomaniac who put his own interests above America’s good. Roosevelt highly valued biblical morality and considered it vital to personal and public life, including politics. He downplayed doctrine and theological differences and strongly stressed the importance of good works and character. Many contemporaries called him a preacher of righteousness, and he labeled the presidency a bully pulpit, which he used to trumpet the importance of social justice, civility, and virtue. Three religious issues caused considerable controversy during Roosevelt’s tenure in office: his attempt to remove “In God We Trust” from some coins, the “Dear Maria” affair, and concerns about William Howard Taft’s Unitarianism during the 1908 presidential campaign. Christianity, especially the version espoused by turn-of-the-century Social Gospelers, played a significant role in shaping his philosophy of government. Roosevelt’s role in mediating the 1902 anthracite coal strike, “taking” Panama to build an isthmus canal, and promoting conservation illustrate how his religious commitments helped shape his policies.

Keywords:   anthracite coal strike, character, coin controversy, conservation, morality, muscular Christianity, Panama Canal, philosophy of government, Social Gospel, social justice

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