Professor Emeritus David L. Holmes
Walter G. Mason Professor of Religious Studies
College of William and Mary
photo by: Rob Garland
The Randolph-Macon College Religious Studies
department will present “The Faiths of the Postwar Presidents: From Truman
to Obama,” on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 7:30 p.m. in the Washington
Room of Washington-Franklin Hall, located at 102 College Avenue, Ashland, VA. This
event, sponsored by the Reverend Alexander G. Brown Jr. Memorial Lecture, is free
and open to the public. No RSVP or registration is required.
Guest speaker Professor Emeritus David L. Holmes, the Walter G. Mason Professor
of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary, will discuss the private
and public faiths of the 12 postwar American presidents. Holmes says they each display
a number of surprises. For example, Dwight Eisenhower was raised in the Jehovah’s
Witnesses. From college on, Richard Nixon was privately a Unitarian who denied the
Biblical miracles and the divinity of Christ. The faiths of the other postwar presidents—especially
Kennedy, Ford, Johnson, Reagan, and Obama—also display similar surprises. After
the lecture, there will be a question and answer period followed by a reception
and book signing in the Franklin Room. Copies of Holmes’ new book, The Faiths of
the Post-War Presidents (University of Georgia Press, 2012), will also
be available for purchase.
Holmes was a celebrated scholar at the College of William and Mary for 46 years.
While there, he won the Outstanding Faculty Award of the Commonwealth of Virginia,
the Graves Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching, and the Society of the Alumni
Teaching Award. In 2006, he also received the Thomas Jefferson Award, the highest
award given to an administrator or professor at William and Mary. His six books
include the best-seller The Faiths of the Founding Fathers (Oxford University
Press, 2006). His most recent book, The Faiths of the Post-War Presidents,
is due to be released on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. The Library Journal
review of the book reads, “This is an admirable and colorful yet balanced look at
our recent Presidents and their religious beliefs. It will have wide appeal for
all readers and particularly for those interested in presidential history.” Holmes
has presented several hundred papers and talks at scholarly and popular meetings
and has appeared on NPR and PBS.
Holmes received a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University, a
master’s degree in English from Columbia University, and master’s and Ph.D. degrees
in religious studies from Princeton University. He also studied theology for several
years at Duke University Divinity School and holds two honorary doctorates. He served
both as an enlisted man and as an officer in the United States Army.
The Reverend Alexander G. Brown Jr. Memorial Lecture endowment was established in
1943 with a gift from Dr. Alexander Gustavus Brown Jr., an alumnus of the college.
The lecture endowment is in honor of Brown’s father who served as a Trustee of Randolph-Macon
from 1871 to 1900. The purpose of the Brown Memorial Lecture is to “bring outstanding
ministers or religious experts without restriction as to denominational affiliation
to speak to students and the community as well as to hold an open forum with those
preparing for the ministry."
For more information on this event, please contact Anne Marie Lauranzon
at (804) 752-7317, firstname.lastname@example.org.