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Church and State: Religion and Politics in America

October 9, 2014

Church and State: Religion and Politics in America by Courtney Campbell. Despite a Constitution that vests political authority in “we the people” and makes no mention of “God,” America’s highest elected representatives have historically assumed their offices by taking an oath while placing a hand on the Bible or, in some cases, on the Bhagavad-Gita and the Qur’an. There are numerous examples of American identity being conveyed through religious symbols or words, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, the national motto on currency and coinage (“In God we Trust”), and the customary conclusion to a presidential address, “God bless America.” How did these traditions begin, and what issues prompted their adoption? What does their ongoing practice say about religious identity in American public life?

Courtney Campbell is the Hundere Chair in Religion and Culture and a professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at Oregon State University. His teaching and research interests focus on ethical issues in medicine, religious ethics, concepts of peace and war, theories of death and dying, and theologies of embodiment. Campbell serves on the board of directors for Benton Hospice and the ethics committee for Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center.

Funded project of Oregon Humanities. Oregon Humanities is a state affiliate of the National Endowment for theHumanities.

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Contact: Lynn Frost Phone: (541) 998-8942 E-mail:
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