The Podium, the Pulpit, and the Republicans
How Presidential Candidates Use Religious Language in American Political Debate
by Frederick Stecker
July 2011, 229pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-313-38250-5
$55, £43, 48€, A76
Paperback: 978-1-4408-3583-4
$45, £35, 40€, A62
eBook Available: 978-0-313-38251-2
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Since 1973 the Republican Party has spent hundreds of millions of dollars each year to field metaphors that project a “tough love,” “strict father” ideology in their campaign discourse. Through repetition, these metaphors have become imbedded in the subconscious of American voters of all types. Do they have the desired results?

In this book, the presidential debates of 2000, 2004, and 2008 are analyzed in terms of linguistics, rhetoric, and religious context to offer a unique perspective on the styles, beliefs, and strategies of the two major parties and their candidates.

In The Podium, the Pulpit, and the Republicans: How Presidential Candidates Use Religious Language in American Political Debate, a veteran minister analyzes the religious metaphors Republicans use at the podium and alleges that the party deliberately employs blaming tactics, fear metaphors, and coded references to apocalyptic judgment to sway undecided voters.

Over the past 40 years, Frederick Stecker charges, the Republican Party has created fear for political expediency. Stecker’s book traces the development of the Republican rhetoric of polarization and applies the linguistics-based “nation-as-a-family” political typology of George Lakoff to an analysis of the presidential debates of 2000, 2004, and 2008. He demonstrates how Republican candidates select their language and metaphors to signal adherence to rigid belief systems and simple, black-and-white choices in domestic and foreign policy.

Frederick Stecker is an Episcopal minister and a student of religion and culture. He holds doctorates from Bangor Theological Seminary, Bangor, ME, and from The Institute for the Study of Violence of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis, Brookline, MA. Stecker divides his time between western New Hampshire and Cambridge, Massachusetts.


"Stecker’s book provides illuminating analytical insights, fascinating textual examples, and even some interesting personal anecdotes."—Presidential Studies Quarterly, December 16, 2012

"This challenging book takes a unique look at political discourse in the US since the early 1970s. . . . Students of religion and politics as well as readers interested in political discourse will find this book useful."—Choice, February 1, 2012

"Christian evangelical identification has been (and continues to be) a particular staple within the Republican party. That's why The Podium, the Pulpit, and the Republicans: How Presidential Candidates Use Religious Language in American Political Debate by Episcopal minister Frederick Stecker is so timely and such a valued contribution to the growing body of literature concerning the impact and influence of religion upon American politics, politicians, and political movements. . . . The Podium, The Pulpit, And The Republicans is informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and directly relevant to today's national presidential politics, making it a highly recommended addition for academic and community library reference collections, as well as supplemental reading lists for American Political Science curriculums." —Midwest Book Review, October 1, 2011

"In times of increasing partisan divisiveness, shifting communication networks, and extraordinarily rapid information exchange, attitudes are shaped and colored in often surprising and unchangeable ways. The premise of this volume is understanding how core attitudes about national identity relate to deeply held religious beliefs and shape the political discourse. Dr. Stecker brings together disciplines that do not always speak to one another, especially in such a contentious current climate. And in his openness to examining such core issues in the political landscape, he also asks us to listen more closely to the turns of speech and phrases that are influencing each of us every day in these rapidly changing — and often crisis laden — times. This is a provocative volume that if taken to heart will make each of us slow down and listen again to the many voices joining in the political discourse of our nation." —Linda C. Mayes, M.D., Arnold Gesell Professor, Child Psychiatry, Pediatrics, and Psychology, Yale Child Study Center

"This book provides a vital understanding of [political speech] that [breeds] fear and intolerance arousing the primitive and irrational within us. Citizens should use it as an important guide." —Stephen Soldz, President, Psychologists for Social Responsibility
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