Perceptions of the Presidency: Civil Religion and the American Public’s Assessment of Candidates and Incumbents.
This book examines the relationship between the civil religious beliefs of the American public and that public’s perception of the presidency. Data from the Reagan-Mondale presidential contest are use to examine electoral preference for those candidates who are seen as more civil religious. It is contended that the candidate who is seen as having higher levels of civil religiosity has an electoral advantage. Further data are used to look at the relationship between the public’s civil religious beliefs and the feelings of outrage or betrayal at the perceived actions of President Clinton leading to his impeachment. It is contended that the stronger an individual’s personal feelings of civil religiosity, the greater their outrage. It would appear from the results of these studies that the lens of civil religion is used by the American public in their perception of the presidency. The implications of these findings, in terms of theory, methodology and policy are discussed. This book is addressed to researchers and students of sociology, religion and politics in the United States.