Politics and Religion: The Religious Meaning Hidden Within Presidential Elections

Emma Prusha, Ohio Northern University

Description

Presidential elections are full of meaning, whether that be political or economic. An often-missed aspect of presidential elections is the religious rhetoric that is used within the campaign. This politico-religious language is utilized as a way to gain support from various populations. John F. Kennedy used the religious rhetoric in a discreet sense by appealing to religious meaning that came from the religious language used within the Civil Rights movement. Religion dominated the Civil Rights movement, which found its basis and support within the Black church community. Kennedy was able to take this and translate his campaign into one that focused on the rights of African Americans, highlighting this religious dialogue that stemmed from the church. Ronald Reagan shifted the politico-religious rhetoric by using implicit racially ambiguous religious language to gather support from evangelical conservatives and the Moral Majority. The Moral Majority played a major part in garner support for Reagan, supplying him with the votes he needed, which he would not have received had he not played into the religious and racial bias of the time. This then leads to the election of Donald Trump, who explicitly used religious, racial language to garner support from a vocal religious, white evangelical majority that propelled his campaign. These three campaigns look into the political and religious hierarchy of the times and how these religious values and the rhetoric utilized allowed the presidential candidates to win. The 1960, 1980, and 2016 presidential elections showcase how religion is still prevalent in American politics, fueling the way that Americans, especially evangelicals choose to vote, aided in its advance by the religious and political rhetoric that presidential candidate choose to use.

 
Apr 23rd, 9:00 AM

Politics and Religion: The Religious Meaning Hidden Within Presidential Elections

Presidential elections are full of meaning, whether that be political or economic. An often-missed aspect of presidential elections is the religious rhetoric that is used within the campaign. This politico-religious language is utilized as a way to gain support from various populations. John F. Kennedy used the religious rhetoric in a discreet sense by appealing to religious meaning that came from the religious language used within the Civil Rights movement. Religion dominated the Civil Rights movement, which found its basis and support within the Black church community. Kennedy was able to take this and translate his campaign into one that focused on the rights of African Americans, highlighting this religious dialogue that stemmed from the church. Ronald Reagan shifted the politico-religious rhetoric by using implicit racially ambiguous religious language to gather support from evangelical conservatives and the Moral Majority. The Moral Majority played a major part in garner support for Reagan, supplying him with the votes he needed, which he would not have received had he not played into the religious and racial bias of the time. This then leads to the election of Donald Trump, who explicitly used religious, racial language to garner support from a vocal religious, white evangelical majority that propelled his campaign. These three campaigns look into the political and religious hierarchy of the times and how these religious values and the rhetoric utilized allowed the presidential candidates to win. The 1960, 1980, and 2016 presidential elections showcase how religion is still prevalent in American politics, fueling the way that Americans, especially evangelicals choose to vote, aided in its advance by the religious and political rhetoric that presidential candidate choose to use.