In a remarkable book titled “The God Strategy,” David Domke and Kevin Coe describe how the infusion of religion into politics surged since the Reagan presidency. While prior presidents regularly made references to God, Reagan made them almost systematically. For instance, Lyndon Johnson invoked God in 61 percent of his national addresses, compared to 26 percent for Richard Nixon and 25 percent for Jimmy Carter. But Reagan did so 96 percent of the time. His successors carried on: Bush I (91 percent), Clinton (93 percent), and Bush II (95 percent). (The study was completed before Obama’s presidency.) Reagan was the first president to start emphasizing “God bless America,” an expression that all his successors adopted. This chauvinistic slogan had only been used once, by Nixon, in a national presidential speech before Reagan.
Obama has also resorted to the God strategy, such as by mentioning God five times in his first inauguration speech. “God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny,” he proclaimed. “Let it be said [that] with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.” The inescapable suggestion was that God supported Obama’s inauguration.