What Happened matters. Here’s why.
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.
On the day I turned 18, I could hardly wait for the final school bell to ring—but not for the reason you might imagine. I couldn’t wait to get in my car, drive downtown to the courthouse, and register to vote.
Women in the United States were permitted this right only 96 years ago with the passing of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which reads in part: “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
National Public Radio just ran a pair of features on the flavors of Christianity represented by the presidential and vice presidential nominees. An editor’s note affixed to both stories summarizes the theme: “Both major presidential candidates this year are Protestants… Beyond that, their faith profiles are very different.”
The state of U.S. politics makes it tempting to throw energy behind a messianic bid for the presidency. It also makes this a dubious strategy.
This week, the State Department announced that Christian ethicist Shaun Casey will lead its new office for “religious engagement.” Within the network of the State Department’s various offices, this one stands out as potentially divisive and potentially useful. Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department turned its attention to nontraditional diplomatic partners—and she intentionally engaged, among others, religious partners. That focus has continued under John Kerry, resulting in the official announcement of this office.
But the U.S. government continues to face the issue of how exactly to engage religion.
There were two surprising things about Hillary Clinton’s first tweet.
Clinton broke her Twitter silence this week with this bio: “Wife, mom, lawyer, women and kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD . . . .” A photo by Diana Walker showing a serious-looking Clinton in black and looking at her Blackberry through dark glasses is her avatar.