God and the Modern American Presidency
Since Johns Hopkins UP has Historically Speaking up and running on Project Muse, the issue, and this interview, are available in full here.
... Stephens: Did Richard Nixon's Quakerism have a significant impact on his political career and later life? Did commentators note that link?
Balmer: That came up in the 1960 campaign. One hundred and fifty Protestant leaders gathered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., to discuss Kennedy's Catholicism. After this meeting Harold John Ockenga, pastor of Park Street Church in Boston, and Norman Vincent Peale of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City, held a press conference and called on Americans to think very carefully and very seriously before they elected a Roman Catholic to be president of the United States. His faith, they argued, might affect the way he would govern. A reporter asked Peale if those who attended this meeting discussed Nixon's Quakerism. Peale replied with what I'm sure was an unintentionally hilarious comment that turned out to be quite prophetic: "I don't know that he ever let it bother him." . . .
Stephens: Could you comment on the perceptions that voters have about the religiosity of politicians?Balmer: One of the great mysteries of presidential politics over the last half-century is why it was that evangelicals who helped propel Jimmy Carter into office turned so dramatically against him. As far as I can tell, there were several things going on. . . .
(For more on Balmer's book, see Ed Blum's review from last year.)
Some other essays in this issue of HS that might be of interest:
Teaching American Abolitionism and Religion
Evangelicals, the End Times, and Islam
Thomas S. Kidd
Witch-hunting in the Western World: An Interview with John Demos
Donald A. Yerxa
Cabeza de Vaca and the Problem of First Encounters
Displaced from Zion: Mormons and Indians in the 19th Century