David L. Holmes, a respected author and professor of Religious Studies from the College of William and Mary, spoke at Eastern Michigan University on Thursday as part of the tour for his newest book, The Faiths of the Postwar Presidents: From Truman to Obama.
Dr. Holmes spoke briefly about the faiths of each president covered in his book, read two excerpts and then opened the floor to questions from the 75 students in attendance.
The event was hosted by the Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society and the Department of Political Science. Edward Sidlow, the Department of Political Science’s Honors adviser, jumped at the opportunity to welcome Holmes to EMU.
“He is a lovely man, and a bright guy,” Sidlow said.
According to Holmes, this book is somewhat of a follow up to his 2006 book, The Faiths of the Founding Fathers. He feels it is important to learn about our presidents, past and present.
“The president is the most powerful person in the world,” Holmes said. “They can summon more power than anyone else, and they influence worldwide policies.”
Holmes explained that he chose to write about the religious beliefs of American presidents because he is a church historian and religion is his specialty.
“Religion has played a large role in the last two elections,” Holmes said. “In 2008, President Obama started every rally with a prayer. That is what we call a faith-based campaign.”
Autumn Wurts, a freshman and a student in Sidlow’s American government class, has always been interested in religion.
“Seeing how [religion] was incorporated into the presidency was cool,” Wurts said.
In the opinion of Holmes, the U.S. is not far from a Jewish president, or a president with no
religious beliefs at all.
“Young voters are separating themselves from religion,” he said.
Junior Kim Cousino, another student in Sidlow’s American government class, got more than she expected out of the event.
“It was both interesting and informative,” Cousino said.
Sidlow was also satisfied with the outcome of the event.
“[Holmes] was engaging, unpretentious and exemplified what a visiting lecturer should give to the university community,” Sidlow said.
Holmes said that even since publishing this book, he has learned much more on the topic. A second edition of The Faiths of the Postwar Presidents: From Truman to Obama will be released in the spring of 2014.
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