Speakers at the Republican National Convention mentioned God 43 times; speakers at the Democratic Convention, 22 times. One thing was clear: American civil religion is alive and well. At both events God was regularly invoked as the guide and protector of American greatness.
John McCain declared in his acceptance speech: “I’m going to fight to make sure every American has every reason to thank God, as I thank him: that I’m an American, a proud citizen of the greatest country on earth.” Barack Obama concluded his speech with biblical language, referring to “that American promise . . . that makes us fix our eye not on what is seen, but what is unseen. . . . Let us keep that promise, that American promise, and in the words of scripture hold firmly, without wavering, to the hope that we confess.” The politicians tied God closely to American greatness and to the promise of America; the hope and faith they confessed was hope and faith in America.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).