Thursday, May 31, 2007

Presidents and religious faith

Michael Beschloss writes about how religious faith affected the decisions of several Presidents, including Lincoln, Reagan and, in this excerpt, Truman:
One story I tell is of Harry Truman deciding whether or not to recognize Israel in 1948. He had the power to decide whether the new Jewish state would survive. Truman's Secretary of State, George Marshall, was threatening to quit. I discovered that Truman's wife Bess was privately so bigoted that she would not even let Jewish people into her house in Missouri. On the other side, Truman's old Jewish haberdashery partner, Eddie Jacobson, tearfully begged him to help his people resist another Adolf Hitler.

Truman never wore religion on his sleeve. His grandfather had warned him that if someone prayed too ostentatiously, “you better go home and lock up your smokehouse.” But as a quiet Baptist and Bible-reader, Truman was much affected by his favorite Psalm, Number 137: “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.” [more]

No comments: