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The Presidents & Their Faith: From George Washington to Barack Obama

Darrin Grinder and Steve Shaw. Elevate Faith, $16.99 trade paper (276p) ISBN 978-1-943425-24-2

Grinder and Shaw, professors at Northwest Nazarene University, here update their 2012 collected biography of the U.S. presidents to cover Obama's second term. Their thesis remains the same: to persuade citizens "to think carefully about the connection between faith and presidential leadership." With a skosh of humor, they crafted reports from personal, contemporary, and scholarly resources on each president, producing mini research papers laced with their opinions. Primary and secondary quotes handily serve as shuttlecocks for volleys, civil and un-, on presidents' worship habits or lack thereof. Grinder and Shaw report presidents' denominations and stands on religious freedom and racism, from slavery to civil rights, but not one word on sexism, not even when discussing why Carter left the Southern Baptists. They compare one president to another and make note of factoids (Lincoln was never baptized), becoming more voluble and opinionated about presidencies near the present day. As self-labeled "American Puritans," they become downright preachy at times, especially concerning Bill Clinton, while doing less to emphasize other presidents' comparable sins. Political history and religious history buffs will find ample fodder for speculation and continued research. (Aug.)

Reviewed on 07/01/2016 | Details & Permalink

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