Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



The administration of George W. Bush ushered in a new era of public religious discourse. Before the 2000 election, a politician’s religion generally remained in the shadowy recesses of private life, politely referenced only as metonymic evidence attesting to his or her strong moral foundation and character. The presidential campaigns of George W. Bush moved religious rhetoric from the political margins to the center, by speaking openly about the effects of his midlife conversion to Christianity and by using coded religious language to mobilize conservative Christian voters. This explicit inclusion of religious rhetoric has dramatically changed the texture of American politicking, with professions of religious piety increasingly requisite for candidates of both parties and with Republicans embracing the hard-line fundamentalist positions that had heretofore been regarded chiefly as curiosities of the American religious fringe. The constitutional divide between religion and politics—a position long embraced by the conservative Southern Baptist Convention and legitimized by Christian scripture in Jesus’s assertion that believers should “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21)—has fallen into disfavor in the last decade, as with the February 2012 remark of former senator Rick Santorum that this division once caused him to want to “throw up.”1




Johns Hopkins University Press


Baltimore, MD

Publication Information

American Quarterly