During the last five years numerous books and articles have analyzed the faith of American presidents, focusing on one or several chief executives or considering the broad sweep of the presidency. Randall Balmer's God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush is a welcome addition to this literature. Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Columbia University and a leading scholar of American evangelicalism, traces how Americans moved from disregarding religion as a principal consideration for voting in 1960 to expecting candidates to reveal their religious convictions and explain their relationship to God by 2004. He analyzes and deplores both the "politicalization of religion" and the "'religionization' of politics" during these years.
CT Books & Culture Jul/Aug 2008