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.
The presidential election revealed that the “God gap” in electoral politics remains as large as ever—and is much larger than the gender gap that was often touted during the campaign. Mark Silk summarizes it:
Those who said they attend worship weekly preferred Mitt Romney by 20 points, 59-39. Those who said they attend less frequently went for Obama by 25 points. That compares to a male preference for Romney of seven points and a female preference for Obama of 11.
How fervently one practices one’s religion is—apart from race—still the best predictor of how one votes.
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.
With voters focused intently on pocketbook issues, both Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are framing their faith outreach efforts around the economy as the presidential campaign enters its final weeks.