If Newton Leroy Gingrich becomes the Republican candidate for president of the United States, then the 2012 election will be a contest between two men who found new religions fairly late in life. Gingrich is on his third religion: He was raised a Lutheran, later became a Southern Baptist, and in 2009 was received into the Roman Catholic church. President Obama, having been raised in an irreligious home, famously found faith as an adult in Chicago, where he was baptized in 1988 by Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.
God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right By Daniel K. Williams (Oxford University Press, 372 pp., $29.95) From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism By Darren Dochuk (W.W. Norton, 520 pp., $35) In the presidential election of 1976, the Democrat Jimmy Carter split the votes of American white evangelical Protestants almost evenly with the Republican Gerald Ford. With a clear plurality of at least ten percentage points, Carter did even better among the nation’s white Baptists.
The leader of what is arguably the world’s most successful Islamic movement lives in a tiny Pennsylvania town called Saylorsburg, at the Golden Generation Worship and Retreat Center, otherwise known as “the Camp.” The Camp consists of a series of houses, a community center, a pond, and some tranquil, woodsy space for strolling.
Almost no one who attended Saturday’s “Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall seems able to cogently explain what, exactly, took place. Was it a thinly disguised political rally? A triumph of Made in America inspirational treacle? A modern-day religious revival? When probed by reporters, happy participants and skeptical observers alike struggled to make sense of the prayerful parade that saw Tony LaRussa, Sarah Palin, and Eveda King take turns at a podium between prerecorded voiceovers about crossroads, awakenings, and miracles.
In the wake of Barack Obama’s speech in Oslo, there has been much talk--some of it based on intellectual hearsay--about the influence that theologian Reinhold Niebuhr had on Obama.
In news that is sure to warm the hearts of every American, the Charlotte Observer has a report today about Sarah Palin's meeting with Billy Graham and his son, Franklin. "He's followed her career and likes her strong stand on faith," said son Franklin Graham, who was present for the 2 1/2-hour get-together.
The Reverend Franklin Graham has long been something of a thrill seeker. In his quarter-century as head of the Christian relief agency Samaritan's Purse, the eldest son of the legendary Billy Graham (and heir to his evangelical empire) has earned international respect for supplying food, water, shelter, and medical care to regions where other angels fear to tread.
Is it a little laughter that we need now? Then behold the contrition of yesterday's frivolous, the new fashion in gravity. The man who edits Vanity Fair has ruled that the age of cynicism is over. He would know. I always wondered what it would take to put a cramp in the trashy mind, and at last I have my answer: a mass grave in lower Manhattan. So now depth has buzz. The papers are filled with hip people seeing through hipness, composing elegiac farewells to the days of Gary Condit and Jennifer Lopez. The on dit has moved beyond the apple martini.