At his inauguration on January 20, 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower took an unprecedented step: after taking the oath of office, he led the nation in prayer. During his prayer, which historian Kevin Kruse notes helped make Eisenhower’s inauguration as much a “religious consecration” as a “political ceremony,” the new president asked God to “make full and complete [the executive branch’s] dedication to the service of the people.”
Eisenhower’s professed dedication to serve all the citizens of the United States and his willingness to rely upon God’s help were not entirely new.
In an effort to triumph over the religious right, many progressive Christians have married their faith and politics to the Democratic Party, leaving little to no gap between their political visions and the party’s policies. Instead of celebrating this as a successful strategy for re-ascendency, I see it compromising radical Christian commitments to peace and justice.
Many will look at the tribal and ethnic tensions that exist all around the world as a problem as old as human civilization. Isn’t this a strong argument for the reality that the racism that was practiced by white/western Europe is indeed just a reflection of what has always been?
This morning, I couldn’t wait to open the New York Times to find out how the Republican debate went with Donald Trump out of the picture. Who would shine in his absence? What was the general tenor? Cordial or bombastic? Dignified or scrappy? I don’t watch the debates on television.
Many churches, including mine, will mark All Saints Day this Sunday. Of course, politics will also be on everyone’s mind. At first it seemed to me that the two have little in common, but then several connections occurred to me.
To most American voters in 1972, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota was way too liberal on many issues—and he was beaten badly by incumbent Richard Nixon. But to many fellow Methodists he was also a churchgoing humanitarian who in the 1960s directed the new Food for Peace Program and a forward-looking politician informed by the Social Gospel.
Political leaders in the tiny Buddhist nation of Bhutan have announced a nearly six-month ban on all public religious activities ahead of the upcoming elections, citing the Himalayan nation’s constitution that says “religion shall remain above politics.”