This research seeks to examine the interconnected nature of religion and politics in the United States through the lens of the influence of the political elite. This relationship, though seemingly contradictory to the separation of church and state on which the U.S. was built, is especially apparent in how political leaders have projected their political goals through religious rhetoric. The use of religious rhetoric in the inaugural and state of the union addresses of United States presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and George W. Bush was analyzed for how the frequency of such rhetoric correlated to the purpose of its use in the speech. Inaugural addresses and state of the union addresses where chosen for how they allow presidents to communicate directly to the American people in a format repeated by each administration. Data was collected from transcripts of each speech and calculated based on the total spoken terms which fell into a category determined to be religious. These categories included spiritual based rhetoric, religious overtones rhetoric, and Christian specific rhetoric. The frequency of terms in each category was found to correlate to the speakers’ intention behind the speech. This data represents how the political elite are able to project their personal or political relationship with religion onto the American people through their rhetoric. In each president examined, a correlation could be determined between the type of religious rhetoric they employed, and the intention of their speech.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 5-3-2021


Anne M. Cizmar

Mentor Department Affiliation

Government and Economics

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




Department Name when Degree Awarded

Government and Economics