Sacralizing the Cold War: The Lived Religion of President Eisenhower's Pastor

Main Article Content


Edward Elson lived his religion in ways that had ramifications for the spiritual dimensions of the early Cold War as he pastored President Eisenhower. This article explores the structures that shaped and were shaped by this pastor’s unique, lived faith. First it examines those influences on his religion stemming from his life up to 1953 as he remembered it in oral history interviews and his autobiography published at the end of his life. This provides the background for understanding the particular ways his lived religion formed and was shaped by the process of representing institutional Presbyterianism to President Eisenhower: baptizing him, preaching to him week after week, conducting a home blessing for their Gettysburg farm on Thanksgiving, and corresponding with him via letters. Finally, Elson’s religion motivated him to advocate for the Arab Middle East, traveling and lecturing throughout the area with the American Friends of the Middle East (AFME), the organization for which he was the longtime Chairman of the National Council. Elson expressed his religion in sermons, books, articles, and his co-organizing the Foundation for Religious Action in Social and Civil Order (FRASCO). Ultimately, the way Edward Elson lived his religion authorized Eisenhower’s sacralization of the Cold War even as it advocated for a stronger Arab-American connection within religious Cold War parameters.

Article Details