Jerusalem and Washington

Image of President John F. Kennedy: official White House portrait

“Here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

– President John F. Kennedy, 1961 presidential inaugural address.

American political history since at least the Civil War has been marked by religiously-driven political movements. “In God we Trust” was added to our coinage in 1864. The “Christian amendment,” introduced several times in the late 1800s would have amended the Constitution to acknowledge “Almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the Governor among the nations, and his revealed will as our supreme authority.” William Jennings Bryan famously placed the banking battles of his time period in naked theological terms. Wilson’s War To End All Wars bore a similarly crusading tone. Domestically, prohibition was fought as the next great religious cause. The New Deal, evolution in schools, welfare programs, President Johnson’s Great Society, the civil rights movement, the anti-death penalty movement, the fight over prayer in schools, the Cold War, abortion and the culture wars, free market economics, and health care all represent twentieth century political movement largely rationalized on moral and religious terms. Indeed, twentieth century politics in the United States was arguably marked primarily by religion. Continue reading Jerusalem and Washington