Chapter

The White House and Presidential Religion

Jeffrey F. Meyer

in Myths in Stone

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520214811
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520921344 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520214811.003.0005
The White House and Presidential Religion

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All the Founding Fathers had acknowledged that true democracy was impossible in a large and populous nation. They had rejected a parliamentary system of government. By vesting supreme executive power in the hands of a single individual, they created a model of leadership susceptible to development in the direction of monarchy. The history of the White House is a history of the pendulum swinging between the poles of regality and republican populism. George Washington's use of Deist expressions such as “Almighty Being,” “Great Author of every public and private good,” and “Parent of the Human Race” reflects Enlightenment religiosity. The president's house is more like Pierre Charles L'Enfant's “palace,” and his status edges closer to that of the sacred Chinese emperor.

Keywords: White House; George Washington; Founding Fathers; executive power; Enlightenment religiosity; Pierre Charles L'Enfant; regality; republican populism

Chapter.  10839 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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