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Church Meets State in the Oval Office

Jan 25, 2008 (Fresh Air)

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In 1960, presidential candidate John F. Kennedy asked the nation to disregard his religion. In 2000, George W. Bush informed the nation that Jesus was his favorite philosopher.

In his new book, God in the White House, Randall Balmer explores the interplay between religion and politics in America, tracking the "religionization" of the Oval Office across the last half of the 20th century. How did faith become such an important criterion for the presidency?

Balmer is a professor of American religious history at Barnard College and the author of several books on the evangelical experience in the United States. His newspaper columns are distributed nationally by The New York Times Syndicate, and he earned an Emmy nomination for hosting the PBS adaptation of his second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America.

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