Monday, December 17, 2007
Kevin Coe, a doctoral candidate in Speech Communication at the University of Illinois, and David Domke, Professor of Communication and Head of Journalism at the University of Washington, are authors of the just-published book, The God Strategy: How Religion Became a Political Weapon in America. They have a short article in George Mason University's History News Network about how we got to the pass in this country that we can't get our politicians shut up about religion and God. As with most bad trends in our body politic, it can be traced directly to Ronald Reagan.
Our analysis of thousands of public communications across eight decades shows that American politics today is defined by a calculated, demonstrably public religiosity unlike anything in modern history. Consider a few examples.And the sad results are:
If one looks at nearly 360 major speeches that presidents from Franklin Roosevelt to George W. Bush have given, the increase in religiosity is astounding. The average president from FDR to Carter mentioned God in a minority of his speeches, doing so about 47% of the time. Reagan, in contrast, mentioned God in 96% of his speeches. George H. W. Bush did so 91% of the time, Clinton 93%, and the current Bush (through year six) was at 94%. Further, the total number of references to God in the average presidential speech since 1981 is 120% higher than the average speech from 1933-1980. References to broader religious terms, such as faith, pray, sacred, worship, crusade, and dozens of others increased by 60%.
Presidential requests for divine favor also show a profound shift. The phrase "God Bless America," now the signature tagline of American politics, gained ubiquity in the 1980s. Prior to 1981, the phrase had only once passed a modern president's lips in a major address: Richard Nixon's, as he concluded an April 30, 1973, speech about the Watergate scandal. Since Reagan, presidents have rarely concluded a major address without "God Bless America" or a close variant.
Presidents and presidential hopefuls since Reagan have been afraid to be seen as the apostate in the room. They put religion front and center to show they're not.But that's not faith, it's greasepaint.
The photos are just stolen ... opps ... borrowed from the web through Google Image searches and a little patience. The trickier part is picking a theme. This one (a Cirque du Soleil performer) I found on the 9th or 10th page of results (IIRC) of searching on "greasepaint." Since I don't make any money on this blog and use the images as part of the commentary, my position is that there is no copyright infringement and/or no damage.
Carter, if responsible at all, was to blame in only a negative way, in that he disappointed the religious right by not wearing his religion on his sleeve as much as they thought he should, making Reagan's cheap theatrics at his acceptance speech all the more effective.
Thank [cough] God that I found the "off" button to my tv and have forgotten what those "newspaper" thingies are. ;-)
Clegg 'does not believe in God'
New Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has answered "no" when asked on BBC radio if he believed in God.
The rapid-fire question and answer format on 5 Live meant the 40-year-old did not have the chance to elaborate.
He later said he had "enormous respect for people who have religious faith", that his wife is Catholic and that his children are being brought up Catholic.
Last month, former PM Tony Blair said he had not talked much about this faith for fear of being labelled a "nutter".