Academic Research Print

Book Chapter | Religion and the American Presidency (The Evolving American Presidency)


Throughout American history, presidents have been shaped and influenced by their religious faith. Yet this remains an element that many presidential histories treat peripherally or ignore altogether. In Religion and the American Presidency (The Evolving American Presidency), which features essays on George Washington, Ronald Reagan, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and others, scholars explore this largely unappreciated factor in presidents’ lives and actions.

This updated version features a new chapter on the Obama campaign and presidency, written by PRRI’s CEO, Dr. Robert P. Jones, and PRRI Research Director Daniel Cox. Beginning with the backdrop of the 2004 election, when popular media narratives cited “moral values” and “values voters” as major factors in the Democrats’ dramatic losses that year, the chapter explores Obama’s religious background and early influences before delving into the events that catapulted Obama into the national spotlight. It then shifts to the role of faith in Obama’s presidential campaign, and lays out the missteps, controversies and some of the confusion that has persisted through the first three years of Obama’s presidency. The chapter ends with a look ahead and a critical examination of how public perceptions of Obama’s faith could affect his performance at the ballot box in November 2012.

More information about the book is available here.


Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox, “President Barack Obama and his Faith,” in Mark J. Rozell and Gleaves Whitney, eds., Religion and the American Presidency (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).