God Wills It: Presidents and the Political Use of Religion

God Wills It: Presidents and the Political Use of Religion

by David O'Connell
     
 

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God Wills It is a comprehensive study of presidential religious rhetoric. Using careful analysis of hundreds of transcripts, David O’Connell reveals the hidden strategy behind presidential religious speech. He asks when and why religious language is used, and when it is, whether such language is influential.

Case studies explore the religious

Overview

God Wills It is a comprehensive study of presidential religious rhetoric. Using careful analysis of hundreds of transcripts, David O’Connell reveals the hidden strategy behind presidential religious speech. He asks when and why religious language is used, and when it is, whether such language is influential.

Case studies explore the religious arguments presidents have made to defend their decisions on issues like defense spending, environmental protection, and presidential scandals. O’Connell provides strong evidence that when religious rhetoric is used, public opinion typically goes against the president, the media reacts harshly to his words, and Congress fails to do as he wants. He closes with a fascinating chapter on the efficacy of religiously themed speech.

God Wills It shows that presidents do not use religious language because they want to. Presidents like Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush were quite uncomfortable using faith to promote their agendas. They did so because they felt they must. God Wills It shows that even if presidents attempt to call on the deity, the more important question remains: Will God come when they do?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“In God Wills It, O’Connell takes a refreshing look at presidential religious rhetoric, arguing that it is often more than mere decoration meant to evoke a shared cultural legacy. In short, religious rhetoric is employed to guide public opinion regarding important policy goals. The question at the heart of O’Connell’s work is whether presidents have been successful in using religious rhetoric in this manner. Overall, O’Connell’s surprising results challenge simplistic conventional wisdom regarding Americans’ receptiveness to religious appeals from the White House. . . . Highly recommended.”

—P. F. Campbell, Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781412854863
Publisher:
Transaction Publishers
Publication date:
11/05/2014
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

David O’Connell is an assistant professor of political science at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA. His work is published in Presidential Studies Quarterly. This is his first book.

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