Grove City College History Department Chairman Dr. Gary Scott Smith’s latest book “Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents” has landed on a pair of year-end best books lists.
Smith’s book, published earlier this year by Oxford University Press, was singled out by reviewers from the Center for Public Justice and The Gospel Coalition as a top pick for holiday reading.
“Religion in the Oval Office” landed at number eight on the “Top 10 Books of 2015” list compiled by Kevin DeYoung for The Gospel Coalition, a national network of churches. DeYoung calls the book “well researched, balanced, and relentlessly interesting” and says it makes “a compelling case that religion – though vastly different in many instances – was nevertheless genuinely important for each of these men.”
The book was number six on the list of “12 Books for the 12 Days of Christmas” compiled by Byron Borger of Hearts and Minds books for the Center for Public Justice, a Washington, D.C.,-based advocacy group. By this list, readers should be picking up Smith’s book on Dec. 30. As well as praising Smith’s scholarship, Borger notes: “It is a big book and will wrap up nicely as a very handsome gift.”
“Religion in the Oval Office: The Religious Lives of American Presidents” has gotten a lot of attention this year. Building on his earlier work “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush,” Smith explains how faith influences presidential policy and priorities. Smith has been interviewed about the book in print and broadcast by such diverse media outlets as the Christian press and radio to public radio and alternative weeklies, and he has become a source on faith and the presidency for journalists and others.
The book looks at 11 presidents, providing a fascinating account of how religion has helped shaped the course of our history. From John Quincy Adam’s treatment of Native Americans, to Harry Truman’s decision to recognize Israel, to Bill Clinton’s promotion of religious liberty and welfare reform, to Barack Obama’s policies on poverty and gay rights, Smith shows how strongly our president’s religious commitments have affected policy from the earliest days of our nation to the present.
For more on the Department of History at Grove City College, visit www.gcc.edu/hist.