cover image Under God: Religion and American Politics

Under God: Religion and American Politics

Garry Wills. Simon & Schuster, $24.45 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-65705-5

Explicating his theory that religion is an inextricable element of American political life, Wills sheds new light on the 1988 presidential campaign. While George Bush wooed Jerry Falwell and extolled patriotism, religion, law and order, Jesse Jackson and Pat Robertson--both ordained ministers, both from the South, both advocates of a moral revival--represented antipodal political extremes. The ``secularity'' of Michael Dukakis's campaign came across in his ``pinched ideal of politics,'' while Gary Hart, a product of Yale Divinity School, failed to find ``a new moral language'' to account for personal indiscretions. Wills ( Reagan's America ) writes incisively of Mario Cuomo's stand on abortion and of Robert Bork, ``a friend of censorship.'' He gives his central thesis historical ballast; for example, Abraham Lincoln saw the Civil War as an act of ``expiatory suffering,'' and deist Thomas Jefferson in his private writings revealed his enthusiasm for Jesus's ethical doctrines. Author tour. (Nov.)