Speaker Dr. Randall Balmer • Sunday, November 20, 2022
Faith and the Presidency since John F. Kennedy
10:30-11:30am • Contemporary Issues
Voter interest in the religion of presidential candidates has varied wildly since the 1960 campaign, when John Kennedy was forced to answer for his Catholic faith. His address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960, urged voters to set aside a candidate’s faith when they entered the voting booth. That “Kennedy paradigm” of voter indifference to a candidate’s religion prevailed until Watergate, when once again voters looked for candidates with a moral compass. This lecture examines the ebb and flow of voter interest in a candidate’s religion and asks whether religious affiliation is a very good barometer of a president’s conduct in office.
Religion and Sports in North America
11:45am-1pm • Fellowship Hall • Snacks
Based on his new book, Passion Plays: How Religion Shaped Sports in North America, Randall Balmer explores both the history and the symbolism surrounding the four major teams sports: baseball, football, hockey and basketball. Each sport arises out of a movement called Muscular Christianity, and each has its own symbolic universe. Baseball, for instance, is an immigrant game, while football, which emerged after the Civil War, is a military game concerned with the conquest and the defense of territory, similar to the battlefields of Gettysburg and Antietam. We’ll examine, finally, the growing appeal of organized sports—attendance, sports radio—as more and more Americans transfer their allegiance from the sanctuary to the stadium.
DR. RANDALL BALMER BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Randall Balmer, an Episcopal priest, prize-winning historian and Emmy Award nominee, is the John Phillips Professor in Religion at Dartmouth College. He is the author of eighteen books, including God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, Redeemer: The Life of Jimmy Carter and Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right. His second book, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America, now in its fifth edition, was made into an award-winning, thee-part documentary for PBS. His commentaries about religion in America appear in newspapers across the country.