The place of religion in the American presidency is a source of endless historical and political interest. But Franklin Delano Roosevelt is not too often highlighted by scholars and biographers interested in this particular genre [ADDENDUM: but my colleague and historian of the period, John Barrett, says I am wrong about this]. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan…these and others spring immediately to mind, but not FDR–the champion and architect of the New Deal. This new book by religion reporter Christine Wicker (author of a book a few years ago about the demise of Evangelical Christianity in America), The Simple Faith of Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Religion’s Role in the FDR Presidency (Penguin Random House) discusses FDR’s religious convictions and the place of religion in the FDR presidency.
In The Simple Faith of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, religion journalist and author Christine Wicker establishes that faith was at the heart of everything Roosevelt wanted for the American people. This powerful book is the first in-depth look at how one of America’s richest, most patrician presidents became a passionate and beloved champion of the downtrodden–and took the country with him. Those who knew Roosevelt best invariably credited his spiritual faith as the source of his passion for democracy, justice, and equality. Like many Americans of that time, his beliefs were simple. He believed the God who heard his prayers and answered them expected him to serve others. He anchored his faith in biblical stories and teachings. During times so hard that the country would have followed him anywhere, he summoned the better angels of the American character in ways that have never been surpassed.