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Politics And Religious Faith In The Media

2963 words - 12 pages

Politics and Religious Faith in the Media

On January 29, 3003, thousands of Americans were seated in front of their television screens, eagerly and somberly watching the man on the screen. During the man’s speech, the words “There’s power, wonder-working power” were brought forth, and it was those very words which have turned heads, and incurred opinions, articles, and editorials across the nation. Had this man been a preacher there is no doubt that his comments would have gone un-criticized. However, this man was not a preacher, but rather George Bush, the President of the United States of America. His comment did not escape notice nor criticism, and has become highlighted in the recent ...view middle of the document...

American politics have been faith based since the very beginning. It is well known that in the seventeenth century, many of the British North American colonies that eventually formed the United States of America were settled in the seventeenth century by men and women, who, in the face of European persecution, refused to compromise passionately held religious convictions and fled Europe. In fact, the New England colonies, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland were conceived and established "as plantations of religion."

Between 1700 and 1740, an estimated 75 to 80 percent of the population attended churches, which were being built at a headlong pace, and toward mid-century the country experienced its first major religious revival. Religion played a major role in the American Revolution by offering a moral sanction for opposition to the British--an assurance to the average American that revolution was justified in the sight of God. From 1774 to 1789, the Continental-Confederation Congress, a legislative body that was governing the United States, contained an extraordinary number of deeply religious men. The amount of energy that Congress invested in encouraging the practice of religion in the new nation exceeded that expended by any subsequent American national government. Although the Articles of Confederation did not officially authorize Congress to concern itself with religion, the citizenry did not object to such activities. This lack of objection suggests that both the legislators and the public considered it appropriate for the national government to promote a nondenominational, non-polemical Christianity. Congress was guided by "covenant theology," a Reformation doctrine especially dear to New England Puritans, which held that God bound himself in an agreement with a nation and its people.

The first national government of the United States, was convinced that the "public prosperity" of a society depended on the vitality of its religion. Nothing less than a "spirit of universal reformation among all ranks and degrees of our citizens," Congress declared to the American people, would "make us a holy, that so we may be a happy people."

As we can see, religion and politics have been intertwined since the birth of the United States. American democracy was founded on the principles of politics and religion, and the two were virtually inseparable. The presidents of old encouraged this tradition, and made that clear in their communications with the public. Since the beginning the Presidents of the United States have called upon God for political guidance, and leveraged His name and the Scriptures in campaigns, speeches, and addresses. The first two Presidents of the United States were patrons of religion--George Washington was an Episcopal vestryman, and John Adams described himself as "a church going animal." Both offered strong rhetorical support for religion. In his Farewell Address of September 1796, Washington called religion,...

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