Gary S. Smith

Gary S. Smith

Dr. Gary Scott Smith chairs the history department at Grove City College and is a fellow for faith and politics with The Center for Vision & Values. He is the author of “Faith and the Presidency From George Washington to George W. Bush” (Oxford University Press, 2009) and “Heaven in the American Imagination” (Oxford University Press, 2011).

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STREAMING VIDEO – 2014 – Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Religious Liberty

May 28, 2014 | by | Topic: Annual Conference Lectures, Annual Conference Lectures 2014, Faith and Freedom Abused, Streaming Video

Dr. Gary S. Smith speaks at The Center for Vision & Values 2014 annual conference, Faith and Freedom Abused: Threats to our Religious Liberty.… More>

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America’s civil religion: Presidents and Memorial Day

May 19, 2014 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness, The Path to Freedom

Throughout American history presidents have often used religious rhetoric for various reasons: to provide comfort and consolation, argue that God providentially directs our nation, celebrate our Christian heritage, defend democracy, hold citizens and the country accountable to transcendent standards, help … More>

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Is heaven for real?

April 25, 2014 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

The movie “Heaven Is for Real,” based on The New York Times bestseller of the same name, made an impressive debut last week. The film recounts the near-death experience (NDE) of then 4-year-old Colton Burpo as told by his father, … More>

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Recent presidents and religious liberty

April 2, 2014 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The Global Challenge, The Law, The Path to Freedom

American presidents have played a major role in fostering religious liberty at home and abroad. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison strongly supported the separation of church and state and freedom of worship. Washington used his enormous influence … More>

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President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative

March 19, 2014 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The Global Challenge, The Path to Freedom

Recently, President Obama announced the creation of a new program to help Latino and African-American males. Not surprisingly, he called this initiative “My Brother’s Keeper.” During his presidency, Obama has used this biblical phrase more than 60 times to support … More>

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V&V Q&A – Barack Obama’s Church Attendance: An Interview with Dr. Gary Smith

January 6, 2014 | by | Topic: The American Story, Vision & Values Concise E-publications

Editor’s note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. In this latest edition, Dr. Paul Kengor, the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values, interviews Dr. Gary Scott More>

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Remembering John F. Kennedy

November 18, 2013 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

Few events in American history have brought more sorrow, grief and confusion than the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Astounded by the intensity of Americans’ reactions, a British journalist wrote, “One would think that one was … More>

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President Theodore Roosevelt and Veterans Day

November 8, 2013 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness

As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, it is instructive to consider the contributions of our presidents to our nation’s defense and military. Of America’s 43 presidents, 31 have served in the military. Ten, most notably George Washington, Andrew Jackson, … More>

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The Hope of Heaven

March 19, 2013 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

In response to recently being diagnosed with a rare and terminal type of brain cancer, sitcom star Valerie Harper declared, “we are all terminal.” In a cover story for “People” magazine and an interview on CNN, Harper, age 73, stressed … More>

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Abraham Lincoln and Slavery

February 13, 2013 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The Path to Freedom

Stephen Spielberg’s masterful movie on Lincoln and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation have recently brought even greater attention than usual to Abraham Lincoln. Holidays like Presidents Day remind us of Lincoln’s position on slavery and his role … More>

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Finding the City on a Hill

February 4, 2013 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The Persuaders

One of the most widely employed metaphors in today’s American political discourse is that the United States is a “city on a hill.” Especially popularized by Ronald Reagan, this phrase (taken from Matthew chapter 5) has been used by … More>

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“So Help Me God”—The Second Inaugural of Barack Obama

January 17, 2013 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

On Monday the United States will celebrate one of its great festivals of civil religion as Barack Obama is inaugurated for a second time. Although nothing in the Constitution mandates it (the only things the Constitution specifies are the date … More>

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Testimonies of Heaven

December 18, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

Earlier this year I went to the WPXI television studio in Pittsburgh to tape an interview. The technician who escorted me inquired, “What are you here to discuss today?” When I replied, “heaven,” he asked, “Have they found … More>

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Proof of Heaven

October 24, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

Heaven is Real,” a Newsweek cover proclaimed last week. Renowned neurosurgeon Eben Alexander’s scientific worldview had previously led him to view near-death experiences as having plausible scientific explanations. However, spending seven days in a coma convinced him that … More>

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Religion and the Election of 2012

September 12, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

Religious issues have played a significant role in numerous presidential elections, as they are in 2012. In 1800, his opponents accused Thomas Jefferson of atheism and trying to undermine the republic’s Christian foundation. In 1928 and 1960, many Americans … More>

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Is There an Afterlife?

September 4, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

Throughout human history people have pondered whether death ends their existence or is the gateway to an afterlife. In recent decades millions around the world have reported near-death or out-of-body experiences. The world’s major religions teach various conceptions of an … More>

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Our Civic High Priest

July 25, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

The tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, which killed 12 and wounded 58, has again accentuated the important role presidents play as our chief civic priest. The governor of Colorado and local clergy helped provide words of solace and encouragement to … More>

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Founders’ Faith: None of the Above

July 9, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness

A book review of Gregg L. Frazer’s “The Religious Beliefs of America’s Founders: Reason, Revelation, Revolution,” written exclusively for The Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal’s University Bookman.

Read the book review»More>

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The Controversial Faith of Barack Obama

May 15, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

President Obama’s recent statement on gay marriage has again thrust his religious views onto the front pages. In defending his position, Obama stressed that he and his wife were “practicing Christians” and that his stance was supported by Christ’s teaching … More>

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Easter and Heaven

April 3, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character

As Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ this Easter, heaven is naturally on the minds of many. Recent polls indicate that between 75 and 90 percent of Americans believe that heaven exists, percentages that far exceed … More>

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Patrick Henry, Patriot

January 20, 2012 | by | Topic: The American Story, The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness

Among America’s amazing pantheon of founders, Patrick Henry stands out for his stirring speeches and fervent commitment to liberty, virtue, and small government. The Virginia planter, lawyer, and politician strongly denounced Great Britain’s political and economic control of the American … More>

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Counting the Year’s Blessings

December 27, 2011 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, The Persuaders

Have you heard any good news lately? Bad news abounds. It’s been another tough year. Economic woes continue. Greece and Italy are on the verge of bankruptcy. Unemployment is still high in the United States (around 8.6 percent), and … More>

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When Teddy Roosevelt Saved Football

September 6, 2011 | by | Topic: The American Story

For more than a century baseball has been called America’s national pastime, and Major League Baseball is flourishing today. However, in recent decades, football—college and professional—has surpassed baseball in popularity and prominence. For many men and some women, fall weekends … More>

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Race, Segregation, and Heaven

August 31, 2011 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

The new movie, “The Help,” based on Kathryn Stockett’s best-selling book by the same name, continues to lead ticket sales at the box office. Both dramatize the extent and tragedy of segregation and discrimination in the South during the early … More>

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Controversy Over Heaven

July 6, 2011 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

The Red Hook section of Brooklyn recently renamed a street “Seven in Heaven Way” to honor seven firefighters who died trying to rescue victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks at the World Trade Center. The street was given this … More>

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V&V Q&A on “Heaven in the American Imagination”

May 27, 2011 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, Vision & Values Concise E-publications

Editor’s note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. In this latest edition, professor of political science and executive director of the Center—Dr. Paul Kengor—interviews the chair of the history More>

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Heaven and Hell

May 11, 2011 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Heaven and hell are in the news and on Americans’ minds a lot lately. “Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back” is currently number one on The New York Times Best … More>

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The Faith of Barack Obama and George Washington: A Double Standard?

September 24, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Recent reports that nearly 20 percent of Americans believe Barack Obama is a Muslim have been widely discussed and analyzed. Moreover, according to surveys, only a third of Americans believe he is a Christian. Evangelicals are almost evenly divided, with … More>

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Could an Atheist Be Elected President? A Look “Down Under”

September 17, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Last month Julia Gillard was elected prime minister of Australia. Gillard is Australia’s first female and first unmarried prime minister. Even more remarkably, she won Australia’s highest office after openly declaring that she is an atheist.

It is extremely unlikely … More>

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Coping with Losing: The Confession of a Frustrated Fan

September 4, 2010 | by | Topic: The American Story

During the turmoil of the 1970s, Pittsburgh became known as the city of champions. Led by two very charismatic and colorful players—Roberto Clemente in 1971 and Willie Stargell in 1979—the Pirates won the World Series twice. Meanwhile, blessed with a … More>

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The 50th Anniversary of a Historic Speech

September 3, 2010 | by | Topic: The Persuaders

This September 12 marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s historic speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association in which he countered religious objections to his candidacy and promised to honor the separation of church and state. This speech … More>

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John Hancock: A Neglected American Hero

July 1, 2010 | by | Topic: The DNA of Greatness

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, our attention will once again turn to such luminaries as George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Samuel Adams. However, another founder who made substantial contributions to American independence, … More>

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How to Help the Poor

April 5, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Most Christians today acknowledge that caring for the poor is a biblical requisite. The primary debate among them is over how we can best fulfill this mandate, which more than 2,000 verses of Scripture prescribe. For example, a group of … More>

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How Christian Were the Founders? The Case of Madison and Jefferson

March 26, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Editor’s note: Dr. Gary Scott Smith will be a participant in an April 15-16 conference hosted by The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College on “The Progressives.” Click here for information.

A recent article in the New More>

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The Character of George Washington

March 15, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

What made George Washington the most remarkable man of an extraordinary generation? He was not an intellectual giant like Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, or James Madison. Compared with most other founders, he was not well educated (he attended … More>

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The Church and the Social Gospel

March 15, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Should churches and individual Christians seek to help people with material problems and social needs, remedy social ills, and improve social institutions’ Throughout history many congregations, Christian organizations, and individual believers have labored to do these things. Today, however, some … More>

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The Founders: How Christian Were They?

February 18, 2010 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

One of today’s most contentious culture wars is over the religious commitments of our nation’s founders. Were most of them orthodox Christians, deists, or agnostics’ Scholarly books, college classes, radio talk shows, and blogs all debate this issue, and the … More>

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Sex Trafficking: It is Happening in Our Backyard

September 4, 2009 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

A story in last week’s news focused on the mysterious reappearance of Jaycee Lee Dugard, a 29-year-old woman who had been kidnapped 18 years earlier—snatched into a car while walking home from school. As the details of her imprisonment emerge, … More>

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Barack Obama and Religion

May 18, 2009 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Americans have long been fascinated with and sometimes disturbed by the faith of their presidents, and Barack Obama’s faith is no exception. U.S. News and World Report recently claimed that “Obama has embraced faith in a more visible way” than … More>

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Slumdogs and Slavery

February 26, 2009 | by | Topic: The Persuaders

On the Monday morning following the Oscars, U.S. news websites splashed the announcement that the “little film that could,” “Slumdog Millionaire,” had garnered the Best Picture of 2008 award. Buried on many of the same web sites was the news … More>

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The Legacy of Abraham Lincoln

February 9, 2009 | by | Topic: The American Story

On Feb. 12 we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. The relatively short history of our nation makes this a particularly momentous milestone. Of all of our leaders after the founders, only Franklin Roosevelt approaches Lincoln’s renown and … More>

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Barack Obama and the Church

December 2, 2008 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

The question of where Barack Obama and his family will go to church after he takes office is attracting a lot of media attention. As the author of “Faith and the Presidency: From George Washington to George W. Bush,” I … More>

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Revisiting the New Deal

May 2, 2008 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

As the New Deal celebrates its 75th  birthday, it is a fitting time to reflect on the context in which it occurred, its moral and spiritual underpinnings, and its aims. By significantly increasing the size, spending, and scope of the … More>

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Faith & Politics

April 16, 2008 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

The 12 Virginia Episcopal congregations that voted to leave the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. (ECUSA) and its Virginia Diocese in late 2006 and early 2007 have been successful in the first round of what promises to be a protracted … More>

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V&V Q&A: On Jefferson, Deism, and Church-State Separation (with Dr. Gary Scott Smith)

March 14, 2008 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, Vision & Values Concise E-publications

Editor’s Note: The “V&V Q&A” is an e-publication from the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Each issue will present an interview with an intriguing thinker or opinion-maker that we hope will prove illuminating to readers everywhere. More>

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The Faith of George Washington

February 20, 2008 | by | Topic: The DNA of Greatness

On July 9, 1755, the “most catastrophic” day in Anglo-American history, Colonel George Washington was traveling with General Edward Braddock’s army toward Fort Duquesne when they were ambushed by Indians and French hiding in the woods. In the ensuing massacre, … More>

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Lessons from Lincoln

February 4, 2008 | by | Topic: The American Story

As we celebrate Presidents’ Day, we can learn much from Abraham Lincoln about how to apply Judeo-Christian values to political life. Governing our nation during its darkest days, Lincoln affirmed God’s sovereignty, sought to discover God’s will, used biblical principles … More>

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Lincoln’s Faith and Presidents Today

February 4, 2008 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

As we celebrate Presidents’ Day in 2008, we are in the midst of campaigns to select Democratic and Republican nominees for president. Recognizing that George W. Bush’s candid discussion of his faith played a key role in his electoral success … More>

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V&V PAPER — Heaven in the American Imagination: From the Puritans to the Present

December 17, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, White Papers

Editor’s Note: With the holiday season now upon us and with Christmas quickly approaching, people around the globe are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. And with the birth of Jesus comes a message of hope for all More>

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What Kind of President Do Christians Want?

December 13, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

In a recent radio interview I was asked the hypothetical question “If you had to choose between candidate A who did not profess to be a Christian but had extensive political experience and candidate B who was a devout Christian … More>

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Thanksgiving Revisited: A Blessed, But Not a Chosen Nation

November 19, 2007 | by | Topic: The American Story

In November 1620, 102 English Pilgrims arrived at Cape Cod after an arduous 66-day voyage across the Atlantic. The first winter, half of their company died. Nevertheless, after the residents of Plymouth gathered their first harvest the next November, Governor … More>

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Should Christians Participate in Politics?

November 8, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

The next presidential election is one year away. In 2004 evangelicals voted for George W. Bush by a ratio of nearly 4-to-1 and seemed poised to have a major impact on Bush’s second administration. However, except for Bush’s Supreme Court … More>

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Is the United States a Christian Nation?

October 16, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Browse the internet and you will find hundreds of sites and essays debating whether the United States is a Christian nation.  Many claim that the mixture of religion and politics is volatile, and no aspect of their relationship currently causes … More>

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Sputnik, Eisenhower, and the Cold War

September 27, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

October 4 marks the 50th  anniversary of the Soviet launch of Sputnik, an event that caused profound shock and panic verging on hysteria in the United States. Newsweek declared that Sputnik constituted a Soviet victory in three areas: pure science, … More>

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Samuel Adams: The Indispensable Man

June 29, 2007 | by | Topic: The DNA of Greatness

As we celebrate the 4th  of July with fireworks, parades, cookouts, and speeches, we should be grateful to our many forebears who risked their property, reputation, and lives to attain our independence. Some of them are well known and highly … More>

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Religion and the 2008 Election

June 6, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

Although the presidential election of 2008 is still 17 months away, it is already very contested as indicated by the 18 announced Republican and Democrat candidates, the huge amount of money raised, and the numerous televised debates and forums of … More>

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John F. Kennedy: A Catholic in the White House

May 18, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness

May 29 marks the 90th  anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth. Kennedy was struck down by an assassin’s bullet in the prime of life, prompting national anguish. His vitality, idealism, powerful rhetoric, and charisma inspired many younger Americans to social … More>

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George Washington and Religious Liberty

February 1, 2007 | by | Topic: The American Story

As we celebrate Presidents’ Day we have many reasons to be thankful for George Washington. The Virginian was a giant even among the remarkable generation of America’s founders. At 6 feet 2 inches, he physically towered over almost all of … More>

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The Faith of Abraham Lincoln

February 1, 2007 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness

The celebration of Presidents Day is a good occasion to reconsider a vital aspect of Abraham Lincoln’s life: his faith. Like George Washington’s, Lincoln’s faith has been closely scrutinized, hotly debated and often misunderstood. Both men attributed their success in … More>

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Will the Real George Washington Please Stand Up?

December 6, 2006 | by | Topic: The DNA of Greatness

Even before he died in December 1799, a battle began over the nature and significance of George Washington’s faith. Was the father of our country a deist, a Unitarian, a lukewarm Christian, or a fervent evangelical? Popular paintings depict Washington … More>

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VISION & VALUES CONCISE: Q&A with Dr. Gary Scott Smith

November 30, 2006 | by | Topic: The American Story, Vision & Values Concise E-publications

Editor’s Note: The “V&V Q&A” is a monthly e-publication from The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College.  Each issue will present an interview with an intriguing thinker or opinion-maker that we hope will prove illuminating to readers More>

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Thomas Jefferson and the Separation of Church and State

October 27, 2006 | by | Topic: The American Story

The current mid-term elections accentuate the massive confusion that exists in the United States  today about the meaning of the phrase “the separation of church and state.”  Many liberals contend the concept requires that religion be completely divorced from government, … More>

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The Political Use of Religion

September 27, 2006 | by | Topic: The Content of Character

As the midterm elections heat up, it is a good time to discuss the political use of religion. Many have linked Republicans’ electoral success in 2000 and 2004 to their ability to appeal to the values of religious voters. Exit … More>

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Religion and the Presidents

May 19, 2006 | by | Topic: The American Story

Few question that religious issues have played a prominent role in the presidency of George W. Bush. Some even accuse Bush of being a Christian zealot who wants to remake America according to his religious views. Although Bush’s faith has … More>

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Christ and Politics

April 19, 2006 | by | Topic: The American Story

Garry Wills’ claim in a recent op-ed in the New York Times “Christ Among the Partisans” that “there is no such thing as a ‘Christian politics’” is biblically and historically suspect. Wills cites Christ’s statement to Pilate, “My reign is … More>

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VISION & VALUES CONCISE: “So Help Me God”: Faith and the Presidency

September 17, 2004 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, Vision & Values Concise E-publications

George W. Bush’s deep personal faith significantly impacts his performance as president and has evoked much commendation and criticism. All this attention on religion leads many to conclude incorrectly that Bush is unique or at least very unusual among American … More>

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Salute to America’s Senior Statesmen: Ronald Reagan and John Quincy Adams

June 11, 2004 | by | Topic: The American Story

Although Ronald Reagan and John Quincy Adams died in very different ways, the national reaction was very similar. Adams collapsed after casting a vote at the House of Representatives and died two days later on February 23, 1848 at the … More>

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Methodists in the White House: William McKinley and George W. Bush

April 25, 2003 | by | Topic: The Content of Character, The DNA of Greatness

A tyrannical regime is brutally treating its subjects. Suffering abounds and basic freedoms are denied. Congress, the press, the religious community, and the American public denounce the cruelty and butchery this government has practiced for decades and debate the best … More>

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