"As God gives us to see the right"
Throughout both the Republican and Democratic primaries and the ongoing presidential campaign of 2008, the religious beliefs and associations of presidential candidates have been at the forefront of public discussion. But the importance that Americans place on the faith of their leaders is nothing new in American history, as this issue of Christian History & Biography shows.
What follows is not a comprehensive survey of the religious beliefs of America's presidents. It is not a series of spiritual biographies of the most pious presidents. The men included here are not necessarily the "most Christian" occupants of the White House, nor do we necessarily endorse their beliefs or policies. What we have done, in consultation with historians Gary Scott Smith and Mark Noll, is to pick seven representative moments in American history—speeches, foreign policy decisions, and in one case an election that sparked a famous metaphor—when the religious perspective of the president intersected with national/ political issues in a significant and influential way. Of course, there are many other historic moments we could have chosen as well, if we had space.
These events are windows. They reveal something about the personal faith of each of these presidents, and how each understood the relationship between that faith and their presidential duties. They also reveal the important, complex role religion has played in the American political scene since the earliest days of the republic.
As editor in chief David Neff explains in more detail on page 42, with this issue Christian History & Biography, as a print magazine, comes to an end. CH&B's 26-year journey has blessed thousands of people, and perhaps none more so than those of us who ...