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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 4: Public Presidential Theology: Foundations and Influences


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Chapter 4 Public Presidential Theology: Foundations and Influences

Using Religious Language

A religious dimension has always been a part of American politics. This is true on both the state and federal level. The first president of the United States, George Washington, stated in his First Inaugural Address “it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe.”321 He issued two official presidential proclamations for days of prayer and thanksgiving. The first proclamation on October 3, 1789, was in response to a request by Congress and the second at his own initiative on January 1, 1795. In both, he stated that it was the duty of political leaders to acknowledge and thank God for His divine favor, benevolence, and to beseech Him for His favor and blessings. In the opening paragraph, the proclamation states:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.322

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