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Franklin Delano Roosevelt, when asked at a press conference about the roots of his political philosophy, responded simply, “I am a Christian and a Democrat.” This is the story of how the first informed the second—how his upbringing in the Episcopal Church and matriculation at the Groton School under legendary educator and minister Endicott Peabody molded Roosevelt into a leader whose politics were fundamentally shaped by the Social Gospel.
A work begun by religious historian John Woolverton (1926 2014) and recently completed by James Bratt, A Christian and a Democrat is an engaging analysis of the surprisingly spiritual life of one of the most consequential presidents in US history. Reading Woolverton’s account of FDR’s response to the toxic demagoguery of his day will reassure readers today that a constructive way forward is possible for Christians, for Americans, and for the world.