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Columbia University Professor to Lecture on Faith and the Presidency

RSS FeedOn Wed., March 26 at 3:30 p.m., distinguished historian Randall Balmer will lecture on "God in the White House: Faith and the Modern Presidency." The talk will be in Shrader 15 and is free and open to the public.

Balmer’s latest work, God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush (HarperOne, 2008), will form the basis for his ENC lecture. In that book, Balmer traces the growing significance of religion to the nation’s highest office. According to HarperOne, Balmer analyzes "presidential religiosity in the last half of the twentieth century—from Kennedy’s 1960 speech that proposed an almost absolute wall between American political and religious life to the soft religiosity of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society; from Richard Nixon’s manipulation of religion to fit his own needs to Gerald Ford’s quiet stoicism; from Jimmy Carter’s introduction of evangelicalism into the mainstream to Ronald Reagan’s co-option of the same group; from Bill Clinton’s covert way of turning religion into a non-issue to George W. Bush’s overt Christian messages, Balmer reveals the role religion has played in the personal and political lives of these American presidents."

Balmer is Professor of American Religious History at Barnard College, Columbia University, and a visiting professor at Yale University Divinity School. He has published a number of books and articles for the scholarly and popular press. Balmer is an editor for Christianity Today, has written for The New York Times Syndicate, and has produced PBS documentaries on Billy Graham, creationism, and American evangelicalism. His three-part TV documentary, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, was nominated for an Emmy.

The lecture is sponsored by ENC’s DeFreitas Foundation.