Pub. Date:
God Wills it: Presidents and the Political Use of Religion

God Wills it: Presidents and the Political Use of Religion

by David O'Connell


View All Available Formats & Editions


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 defence 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. An experimental chapter casts even further doubt on the persuasiveness of religious rhetoric.

God Wills It shows that presidents do not talk this way 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?

Related collections and offers

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781412864046
Publisher: Transaction Publishers
Publication date: 12/30/2016
Series: American Presidents Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About 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.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables



1. Conceptualizing Presidential Religious Rhetoric

2. Aid, Arms, and Armageddon: Dwight Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and the Religious Rhetoric of Defence

3. Holy Warriors: George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, and the Religious Rhetoric of War

4. Protecting Our Blessings: Jimmy Carter and the Religious Rhetoric of Environmental Policy

5. All God's Children: John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and the Religious Rhetoric of Civil Rights

6. I Have Sinned: Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, and the Religious Rhetoric of Scandal

7. An Experimental Evaluation of Religious Rhetoric




Customer Reviews