James Bratt

FDR: Christian & Democrat

on May 14, 2020

Here’s my interview with James Bratt, emeritus professor at Calvin University, about his new book A Christian and a Democrat: A Religious Biography of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Bratt and I discuss FDR‘s lifelong Episcopalianism, his sense of Providence, how Christianity shaped his New Deal views and his resistance against Nazism, his paralysis and dark night of the soul, how his religious sensibility contrasted with his wife’s, his creating the tradition of presidential inaugural prayer services, his fondness for Methodism, and his fascination with Kierkegaard.


  1. Comment by JR on May 14, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    I thought that, in the view of IRD staff, democrats were incapable of being Christian.

    That certainly seems to be a running theme here.

  2. Comment by Steve on May 14, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Counterintuitively, the Episcopal Church membership is trending Republican:
    “What may be even more troublesome for any Democrat who is trying to court white Protestants in 2020 is that every year, more and more of them are slipping away.
    Of the top 20 denominations previously discussed, just two became less Republican in a statistically significant way in the last 10 years, according to the data from the 2008 and 2018 CCES.
    On the other hand, 16 of these denominations have larger shares of Republicans today than they did when Barack Obama was elected in 2008.
    This includes the United Church of Christ, which was one of the first denominations to affirm LGBT people; it became 4% more Republican in the last decade. Buttigieg’s tradition, the Episcopal Church, also saw 4.7% more of its members identify as Republicans.”
    Religion News Service, October 1, 2019

  3. Comment by Steve on May 14, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    “The two largest denominations — the Southern Baptist Convention and the United Methodist Church, which together comprise nearly a quarter of all white Protestants — are 5% more Republican today than 10 years ago.”

  4. Comment by Peter Rowe on June 2, 2020 at 3:58 am

    I’m not. With the lefts denigration of religion and religious believers, even those in moderate religious backgrounds are going to go right.

The work of IRD is made possible by your generous contributions.

Receive expert analysis in your inbox.