Nathan A. Finn

Historian, Theologian, Teacher, Preacher



December 2010



Thomas Kidd on President Obama’s Religious Language

Written by , Posted in Books, Culture, History

Thomas Kidd teaches history at Baylor University, where he also serves as a senior fellow at the school’s Institute for Studies of Religion. He has authored numerous books, including The Protestant Interest: New England after Puritanism (Yale University Press, 2004), The Great Awakening: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2007), The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale University Press, 2007), American Christians and Islam: Evangelical Culture and Muslims from the Colonial Period to the Age of Terrorism (Princeton University Press, 2008), and most recently God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (Basic Books, 2010). He’s also an engaging lecturer–I heard him give an excellent address on Baptists and the First Great Awakening at the 2006 International Conference on Baptist Studies.

Kidd has authored an op-ed piece for USA Today titled “Watch your religious language, Mr. President.” In this editorial, Kidd notes some of President Obama’s more embarrassing remarks about the religious history of America. He generously stops short of accusing the President of deliberately re-writing American history. But he correctly and pointedly notes that President Obama often gets it wrong–very wrong–and he closes with a call for the President to “watch his religious langauge” if he “does not mean to exacerbate believers’ worries about his secular intentions.”

I think Kidd’s editorial is a model of thoughtful, critical, non-cranky criticism–something sorely needed in public discourse, not least when it comes to how evangelicals criticize the President and his politics (which are deserving of criticism). You should read the editorial for yourself.

HT: The Gospel Coalition

P.S. Check out Collin Hansen’s review of Kidd’s new book God of Liberty for The Gospel Coalition.