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George H.W. Bush

Faith, Presidency, and Public Theology

Kjell Lejon

This book is the first to explore the religious dimension of President George H. W. Bush. Also, the author re-conceptualizes the common use of civil religion in order to understand more fully the religious dimension of Bush’s presidency, and thus argues for the need to highlight the religious rhetoric of President George H.W. Bush as a public theology, or more specifically, a presidential public theology.
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Chapter 1: Introduction: The Lost Spiritual Dimension

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Chapter 1 Introduction: The Lost Spiritual Dimension

The Religio-Political Phenomenon

This book explores the religious dimension of George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States. In order to understand this dimension and Bush’s religious rhetoric during his presidency, one has to understand Bush’s background, upbringing, profound life-changing experiences, and the American political culture that in many ways influenced him from its earliest days up till today.1 In fact, religion and politics have always been intermingled on the American political scene, even though church and state have been separated at the federal level since the days of the implementation of the Constitution—though not always at the state level.2 This intermingling is evident among other documents and addresses in the First Virginia Charter (1606), the Mayflower Compact (1620), ← 15 | 16 → the Declaration of Independence (1776), Washington’s First Inaugural Address (1789) and his Farewell Address (1796).3

All individuals are shaped by a broader culture as well as in a more specific political culture. And since America has a deep and broad religious history, which has not only coexisted but also intermingled and interacted with the political history, an understanding of the religious history, including the impact of the religious life in the nation, is an essential part of understanding the history of politics—and also of the American presidency.4

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