God and the Founders

America's first fight was over faith. As the Founding Fathers gathered for the inaugural session of the Continental Congress on Tuesday, September 6, 1774, at Carpenters' Hall in Philadelphia, Thomas Cushing, a lawyer from Boston, moved that the delegates begin with a prayer. Both John Jay of New York and John Rutledge, a rich lawyer-planter from South Carolina, objected. Their reasoning, John Adams wrote his wife, Abigail, was that "because we were so divided in religious sentiments"--the Congress included Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and others--"we could not join in the same act of worship." The objection had the power to set a secular tone in public life at the outset of the American political experience.Things could have gone either way. Samuel Adams of Boston spoke up. "Mr. S. Adams arose and said he was no bigot, and could hear a prayer from a gentleman of piety and virtue who was at the same time a friend to his country," wrote John Adams. "He was a...

God, Satan, and Katrina

In New Orleans to preach to 1,000 clergy gathered at the First Baptist Church there--his first sermon in eight months--the Rev. Billy Graham toured the hard-hit city last week. Afterward, the 87-year-old Graham, who has also just published a new book, "The Journey: How to Live by Faith in an Uncertain World," spoke to NEWSWEEK by telephone. Edited excerpts:This is your first trip to the coast after Katrina. What are your impressions?This is the greatest disaster that I have ever seen, and I've seen many, all over the world. Mile after mile after mile, and not a house standing, not a thing that has been left untouched by Katrina. It's overwhelming to me. After my first tour, in fact, I was so emotional that I could not even talk to my wife for a while.What do you tell people who ask how a loving God could let something like this happen?Well, I spoke yesterday to the clergy and I asked myself why, and I told them don't know why. There is no way I can know. I think of Job, who suffered...

The Editor's Desk

The book Arthur Schlesinger Jr. was working on as Watergate began to unfold in 1972-73 was tentatively called "The Royal Presidency," but Schlesinger had a persistent feeling that the title was not quite right. Now 88, he recalls the moment he hit on the perfect phrase. "For something to be 'royal' means it is inherited, or passive," Schlesinger said last week from his apartment overlooking the East River in New York. "But 'The Imperial Presidency' suggests an active acquisition of power, a series of conquests. And so that became the name of the book."It also became an enduring term in America's political lexicon. In reaction to the abuses of the Nixon years, the country diverted more authority to Capitol Hill (and, unofficially, to the investigative press) in order to check the kind of kingly presidential ambitions Schlesinger had been writing about.As the new year begins, we find ourselves arguing about old conundrums. In our cover story, Evan Thomas and Daniel Klaidman explore...

'Solid, Strong, True'

As current prophet of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley, 95, guides the religion that Joseph Smith established 175 years ago. Recently he talked with NEWSWEEK's Elise Soukup and Jon Meacham about the experience of "revelation," Smith's legacy and the appeal of the church. ...

The Editor's Desk

For Catharine Skipp, the moment with the baby was one of the worst. Catharine, a Miami-based reporter of ours who spent last week in New Orleans, was watching a bus fill with refugees. A woman carrying an infant had handed the child to someone on the bus, but then the doors closed and it pulled away, leaving the woman behind, frantic with tears. Apart from what Catharine called "the whack whack whack" of helicopters, crying was the most persistent sound in the city.Families torn apart, a search for the living in a sea of death: these were the scenes from America's Gulf Coast after Katrina struck. The loss of life and damage in Mississippi, Alabama and elsewhere in Louisiana was heartbreaking, but New Orleans's disintegration was the most dramatic. Catharine was our first reporter in the city; later, Joseph Contreras arrived by boat. T. Trent Gegax and Jonathan Darman slept in their cars on the Gulf Coast.As the days went by, it was apparent that the rescue and relief efforts were...

THE EDITOR'S DESK

THE EDITOR'S DESKIf Thomas Jefferson was wrong, a 19th-century biographer wrote, then America is wrong--an overstatement, perhaps, but close to the mark when we consider religion and public life. Of the Founders, Jefferson was the most eloquent advocate of keeping faith safe from the state and of protecting freedom of conscience--a formula that has made America a haven for believer and nonbeliever alike. Complex, contradictory, endlessly curious, Jefferson once observed that "it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no god." From the Founding to our own day, tolerance has set the United States apart from the Old World, creating and sustaining a culture that celebrates pluralism in politics and in the pew.From Salem to the Scopes trial, of course, we have had our low moments, and religion can be more divisive than unifying. Today, in fact, people tend to talk about faith in terms of conflict--right vs. left, Red vs. Blue, evangelical vs. secular. In...

THE EDITOR'S DESK

Twenty-four summers ago, when Ronald Reagan--still recovering from his gunshot wound and only weeks away from signing his historic tax cut into law--made Sandra Day O'Connor the nation's first female Supreme Court justice, the appointment split the conservative movement Reagan had used to win the presidency the year before. How, the religious right asked, could their leader choose a moderate? The more libertarian wing of the GOP, though, saw O'Connor as a frontier champion of personal liberty. When Jerry Falwell attacked the new nominee, Sen. Barry Goldwater, who knew O'Connor from Arizona, said: "I think that every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass."As Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor Jr. write in our cover story this week marking O'Connor's retirement, her years on the court would not always provoke such colorful commentary, but she remained controversial, a pivotal swing vote on essential matters ranging from abortion to religion. Her personal history is...

PEACE AT THE LAST

As the shadows lengthened, he grew ever brighter. In a wooden pulpit adorned by a single, simple cross, Billy Graham--older, slower, unmistakably weakened in body--stood illuminated by a mass of stage lights in the gathering darkness of a New York night. Now 86, he has prostate cancer, suffers from symptoms of Parkinson's and has broken a hip and his pelvis; there are shunts in his brain to fight hydrocephalus, and not too long ago, on an operating table at the Mayo Clinic, he believed he was dying.Yet when he began to speak to a massive outdoor audience last Friday in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the New York borough of Queens, the years fell away and his voice hit the old familiar notes. "You must be born again," Graham said during what he is calling his last American crusade. "Jesus said it's possible to start life all over again." As Graham preached from the third chapter of the Gospel of John, his great mane of white hair and piercing blue eyes looming before the 60,000...

A Prophet in Winter

Even seated he seems to be standing. With a great mane of white hair and piercing blue eyes, the Rev. Billy Graham is waiting in a quiet room atop Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, moments away from meeting the press. Apologizing for not rising to greet his guests, Dr. Graham--he is a simple, unaffected "Mr. Graham" to his aides--speaks just above a whisper. "I am glad to know you," he says in his rich Southern tones, "and I am sorry for sitting, but when you are 86-years-old, it is harder to do everything you want to do."Harder, yes, but with Billy Graham, as with the God he has served all his life, nothing is impossible. And this weekend, in New York, he summons his strength and his spirit to preach one more American crusade.More pastor than partisan, Graham is the most influential Protestant evangelist of the modern age; only the late John Paul II brought the message of the Christian gospel to a comparable number of human beings around the globe. Now in the twilight of his...

HISTORY: A ROOSEVELT MYSTERY

Sixty years ago this week, when Franklin D. Roosevelt passed away in Warm Springs, Ga., his doctors attributed his death to a cerebral hemorrhage linked to high blood pressure and congestive heart failure. There have, however, long been rumors about Roosevelt's health--rumors that began during the last year of his life. In a 1998 book, "The Dying President," the historian Robert H. Ferrell wrote of "talk that Roosevelt suffered from stomach cancer."Since FDR's medical chart has disappeared--his doctor, Adm. Ross T. McIntire, apparently destroyed it--Ferrell noted that historians knew of only one document that could shed light on whether FDR had such a cancer: an unpublished memo dictated by Dr. Frank Lahey, the head of the Lahey Clinic in Boston and a consultant to McIntire. Lahey, who died in 1953, left the memo to his assistant. It became the subject of litigation, with the clinic unsuccessfully arguing that releasing it would compromise doctor-patient privilege. For the past 15...

THE EDITOR'S DESK

To the end, he was true to the words he spoke in the beginning. On Sunday, Oct. 22, 1978, at his inaugural mass as the 264th Bishop of Rome, John Paul II prayed: "Christ, make me become and remain the servant of your unique power, the servant of your sweet power, the servant of your power that knows no eventide." To reassure the oppressed, the poor and the lonely, the new pope evoked the words of Jesus: "Be not afraid!"Fearless and serene, John Paul II died last week after years of overt suffering--his last eloquent testimony to the sanctity of life--taking his leave with characteristic grace in his apartments above St. Peter's Square.He was a mirror and a maker of modern times. On Sept. 1, 1939, when the Luftwaffe began bombing Cracow, young Karol Wojtyla was serving as an altar boy at Friday morning mass. (Despite the attack, Wojtyla and the priest finished the eucharist.) He survived Nazism and communism, always bearing witness to the power of freedom. A confounding figure by the...

From Jesus to Christ

HOW DID A JEWISH PROPHET COME TO BE SEEN AS THE CHRISTIAN SAVIOR? THE EPIC STORY OF THE EMPTY TOMB, THE EARLY BATTLES AND THE MAKING OF A GREAT FAITH.

George H.W. Bush

Sitting in his office in Houston, still on an anti-malarial pill regimen from his trip to tsunami-ravaged Southeast Asia, former president George H.W. Bush turned from his desk to his credenza to find a note that had just come in. "Here's a fellow who wants to give us $2 million," Bush said. "This cause has really hit people's hearts." With former president Bill Clinton--the two traveled together to the region--Bush 41 has led fund-raising efforts for the victims; private donations for relief currently total about $1 billion. In an interview with NEWSWEEK's Jon Meacham last week, Bush talked about the tsunami, Clinton, Jeb Bush's future and the news from the Mideast. Excerpts: ...

Interview: 'People Are More Hopeful'

In his office in Houston, still on an antimalarial- pill regimen from his trip to tsunami-ravaged Southeast Asia, former president George H.W. Bush turned from his desk to his credenza to find a note that had just come in. "Here's a fellow who wants to give us $2 million," Bush says. "This cause has really hit people's hearts." With former president Bill Clinton--the two traveled together to the region last month--Bush 41 has led fund-raising efforts for the victims; private donations now total about $1 billion. In an interview with NEWSWEEK's Jon Meacham last week, Bush talked about the tsunami, Clinton, Jeb Bush's future and the news from the Mideast.What was the trip like? Were you surprised by what you saw?Well, it was very emotional for me, very moving. The most moving part was to see the children of families that had been wiped out. I saw one guy standing with his hand on a kid's shoulder, and I said to the translator, "Ask him his story." And the man said, "This is my...

AN OLD LION'S LAST ROAR

On the day he turned 50, a week before Americans went to the polls to choose his successor as president, Theodore Roosevelt claimed he had no regrets. "When I am through with anything," he said, "I am through with it, and am under no temptation to snatch at the fringes of departed glory."For all Roosevelt's many virtues, self-awareness was not among them: he was never through with anything, much less the pursuit of power. In her splendid new account of TR's unhappy post-presidency, "When Trumpets Call," Patricia O'Toole brings eloquence and keen psychological insight to a familiar subject; the result is a lovely, unpretentiously learned tale of a great man who could never master his own ambition. Like Winston Churchill (whom he did not like), Roosevelt was a soldier, a man of letters (38 books and a syndicated column), a mighty orator and the creator of his own imaginative universe. Yet he was also, as Woodrow Wilson said, "a great big boy," who loved rowing, safaris, uniforms, old...

A ROAD MAP TO MAKING HISTORY

The inauguration was a quiet affair. Sixty years ago this week, on Jan. 20, 1945, Europe had been at war for nearly six years, America for just over three. Three months away from death, Franklin Roosevelt decided the fewer the festivities, the better. After taking the oath on the South Portico of the White House, FDR delivered what has become an unjustly obscure fourth Inaugural Address, one long overshadowed by the majestic 1933 speech in which he told America that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."To understand the 21st century, however, Roosevelt's 1945 Inaugural is essential reading, an encapsulation of his conviction that politics and leadership are not clinical but human enterprises, America an unfinished experiment, the world a neighborhood with friends and foes close at hand. Engagement, not isolation or hesitancy, was the right road ahead, he said that day. "We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent upon the well...

THE RIGHT STUFF

He was, as he put it, "a nervous, out-of-control dad." By Election Eve 2004, George H.W. Bush, a friend said, had turned into a "nervous wreck." To calm himself the 41st president of the United States first tried to give up caffeine and then his nightly cocktail, but he failed, and on the morning of the voting Bush was so anxious that he was reduced to eating saltine crackers to soothe his churning stomach. "We live in interesting and difficult times," he told me on the telephone that day. "I look at the world now first as a father; people find that hard to believe, but it's true." It was not always so: when the first President Bush was about to strike Saddam Hussein's Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990-91, he sent a touching letter to his children. "My mind goes back to history," Bush wrote on New Year's Eve 1990. "How many lives might have been saved if appeasement had given way to force earlier on in the late '30s or earliest '40s? How many Jews might have been spared the...

EDITOR'S DESK

Faith, wrote the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, "is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Yet the stories of the three great monotheistic religions--Judaism, Christianity and Islam--unfolded in real time, in real places, and there is much evidence about ancient civilizations buried in the sand and soil of the Middle East. For centuries archeologists have traveled there in search of clues about the lost worlds of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad, wondering: Are the different faiths' canonical texts really accurate? What did the hanging gardens of Babylon look like? Was there actually a King David? How, exactly, was Jesus crucified?There will always be tension between sacred history and temporal history; for most believers, the "truth" of scripture is a given, whatever archeologists may say. Still, the quest to learn what we can about the milieu that formed so many faiths is fascinating--and becoming ever more difficult. As Melinda Liu and Christopher...

THE EDITOR'S DESK

"The real causes of obesity," Jerry Adler presciently wrote in NEWSWEEK 22 years ago, "may be locked away deep in the chemical infrastructure of the body." Adler, our science writer, was right, and in this week's cover story he and Anne Underwood take an original look at an American obsession: fat. We've all read countless stories about the latest fashionable diet, but this project is different, explaining science's evolving understanding of fat cells, the cells' relationship to the brain and how these insights may help us find treatments for obesity and a range of other health problems.That should be encouraging news for the two thirds of Americans who are overweight. Relentless and resilient, fat cells turn out to be savvy survivors, able to multiply and thrive. They are active entities, not static globs, and produce chemicals that cause inflammation--a chronic condition linked to heart disease, diabetes and some kinds of cancer. If we can figure out how to intercept the signals...

THE EDITOR'S DESK

In the grim months after Pearl Harbor, when the Allied war effort was going badly, Winston Churchill faced a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. After the prime minister dictated and delivered a 10,000-word speech defending himself, the attacks evaporated. Grumbling afterward, Churchill noted that critics seemed to spin "round with the alacrity of squirrels."President Bush and his national-security team probably think they are surrounded by such squirrels. When Tom Ridge announced that the government had uncovered information about five specific targets in New York, Washington and New Jersey, he came under attack for saluting Bush's "leadership" and for not revealing that the terrorists' surveillance had taken place about four years ago. (Critics apparently overlooked the fact that long-term planning is a Qaeda hallmark.)And so it goes in a divided America. Ridge was wrong to plug the president in what should have been a straightforward security briefing, and Bush can only...

THE EDITOR'S DESK

She was grace itself, smoothing the flag that draped her husband's coffin, whispering a few words over the remains of the man she loved so well and so long, and, as the sun set on Friday, weeping, surrounded by her children. "I can't imagine life without her," Ronald Reagan once remarked of his wife, and, blessedly, he never had to. Nancy Reagan was there for him to the very end.Ancient words and old hymns echoed through the services in Washington and, at last, in the California dusk--images from Isaiah, St. Matthew, St. Paul and John Winthrop. There was the rousing "Hail to the Chief," the martial "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and the bittersweet "Amazing Grace." This week we commemorate the Reagan farewell in pictures, including memorable images taken by Khue Bui and David Hume Kennerly, and in remembrances for NEWSWEEK from former Presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.Reagan's death, though, was not only about pageantry and the past. Amid the grandeur, many...

American Dreamer

A CAPTIVATING AND ELUSIVE MAN, RONALD REAGAN ROSE FROM LIFEGUARDING IN ILLINOIS TO HOLLYWOOD--AND BECAME ONE OF OUR GREATEST PRESIDENTS. AN INTIMATE LOOK AT HOW HE PLAYED THE ROLE OF A LIFETIME.

D-Day's Real Lessons

In the first days of the Bush Restoration in 2001, Karl Rove, the new president's senior adviser and in-house history buff, was dining at the British Embassy in Washington with the then ambassador, Christopher Meyer. In the grand building up on Massachusetts Avenue, Rove mentioned George W. Bush's fascination with Churchill. "He was a man who saved the world," Rove said of Churchill, "a wartime leader who charted his own course, and did it with wit and personal morality and courage." Meyer called Rove a few days later. "The P.M. has a spare bust or two of Churchill," Meyer said. Would the president like one? Absolutely, came the reply. Bush, who tells Oval Office visitors that he works at a desk once used by Franklin D. Roosevelt, loved the idea of adding the Churchill.And so there the Last Lion sits, in bronze, next to the fireplace beneath a West Texas painting. Bush likes the juxtaposition. Churchill, the president said in accepting the bust, "knew what he believed, and he really...

The Editor's Desk

Tim Lahaye and Jerry Jenkins are not exactly household names in New York City, where much of the national press lives and works. Given the cultural influence these two men have over a huge part of the country, however, they should be, which is one reason we decided to profile the authors of the wildly best-selling novels about the Apocalypse, the "Left Behind" series. ("Left Behind" refers to the people who many Christians think will remain on earth after born-again believers are summoned to heaven in the Rapture; those "left behind" will then face years of tribulations and Armageddon, with a shot at salvation once the smoke's cleared.)But LaHaye and Jenkins are on the cover this week not just because of the scope of their success (62 million copies sold, which is better than Stephen King or John Grisham are currently doing). As David Gates's piece makes clear, LaHaye and Jenkins's contrasting sensibilities tell a larger story about the complexities of evangelical Christianity--and...

Who Killed Jesus?

MEL GIBSON'S POWERFUL BUT TROUBLING NEW MOVIE, 'THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST,' IS REVIVING ONE OF THE MOST EXPLOSIVE QUESTIONS EVER. WHAT HISTORY TELLS US ABOUT JESUS' LAST HOURS, THE WORLD IN WHICH HE LIVED, ANTI-SEMITISM, SCRIPTURE AND THE NATURE OF FAITH ITSELF.

Reagan: Why We've Deified The Gipper

He always loved superlatives--being the lifeguard who saved the most swimmers back home in Illinois, pushing for the lead parts in his beloved Westerns, driving himself from a fading career hosting TV shows to the presidency of the United States. It seems likely, then, that Ronald Reagan would have loved knowing that, tucked away in his hushed house in Bel Air last Feb. 6, he marked his 92d birthday, adding to his record as the longest-living former president in American history.Battling Alzheimer's disease, Reagan has not been seen in public for years; the last photographs circulated in 2000. As the shadows lengthen in what the Reagan circle wistfully calls "the long goodbye," Reagan's flame has never burned brighter beyond the walls of his California enclave. George W. Bush models his presidency more on Reagan's than on his own father's; admirers are trying to establish monuments to the 40th president in every county in the nation; there is serious talk of trying to put Reagan on...

Race: Southern Family Values

The American South, where I come from, has long been a region of secrets and contradictions. Defenders of freedom, we protected and perpetuated slavery; deeply religious, we are prone to violence. Down the years we have learned to live in an enduring moral twilight in which prayer and anger and cruelty and kindness and grace and rage are intermingled.And so it was not entirely surprising to white or black Southerners when news came that Strom Thurmond--segregationist, Dixiecrat, race-baiter--had a daughter by his family's African-American maid, a daughter with whom he maintained cordial ties until his death this year. Essie Mae Washington-Williams met her father when she was 16; he gave her money, visited with her, wrote her cards and encouraged her to attend college. They rarely discussed politics, Williams recalled, but in one conversation with his daughter, Thurmond attributed his segregationist creed to habit and inertia: "Well, that's the way things have always been," he told...

The Lost Lucy Letter

Roosevelt and Churchill first met, very briefly, in the summer of 1918. FDR was assistant secretary of the Navy, on a tour of England and the European front; Churchill was minister of munitions. On Roosevelt's return, his wife, Eleanor, discovered letters between her husband and her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. FDR and Lucy were in love. Facing the defining crisis of his marriage, Franklin chose Eleanor (and his career), and Lucy went on to marry the wealthy Winthrop Rutherfurd.Historians have long known Lucy was in occasional touch with the president and returned to FDR's circle late in the war; she was with him when he died. But a hitherto unpublished letter of Lucy's to the president--found in FDR's daughter's papers at Hyde Park--now reveals much closer ties between the two than has been previously understood. Apparently written in 1941, the note is practical, emotional, chatty, and sad. Lucy jokes about catching a cold when he has one because they talk on the telephone and...

Empty Title

The light was fading. late on the afternoon of Sunday, February 4, 1945, in the Crimean coastal town of Yalta, the three most powerful men in the world--Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin--were meeting in a former summer house of the Russian Czars. There were huge questions to be decided about World War II's final act and its aftermath--questions which required American leadership--but Churchill's circle was horrified at the 63-year-old Roosevelt's condition. "He is very thin & his face is drawn & deeply lined & he looks weary all the time and as if he might be in bad pain," British Air Chief Marshal Charles Portal wrote home to Pamela Churchill, then the prime minister's daughter-in-law. "Also, his brain is obviously not what it was. Altogether he looks as if Truman might be in for a job of work..."Portal had it right; though it was a closely held secret, FDR was suffering from congestive heart failure and high blood pressure. Churchill, however,...

Ask Tip Sheet

Since we will soon mark the 40th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination, what book would you recommend as the best and most insightful about that day in Dallas?There are two essential works on the assassination. The first is William Manchester's 1967 narrative "The Death of a President," which movingly chronicles JFK's murder moment by moment; the second is Gerald Posner's 1993 "Case Closed," a convincing assessment of the conspiracy theories surrounding Dallas. Posner's conclusion: Lee Harvey Oswald almost certainly acted alone.

The Editor's Desk

Late last Tuesday afternoon, Joshua Hammer had just returned to our bureau in Baghdad from a visit to a power plant--he had been reporting on Iraq's electrical problems--when the telephone rang. "I think a bomb just went off at the U.N.," one of our photographers, Geert van Kesteren, told Hammer, NEWSWEEK's Jerusalem bureau chief on assignment in Iraq. Racing across the city, Hammer thought it seemed like a normal day in Baghdad, with the usual traffic patterns. Maybe the report was wrong; maybe nothing had happened.Soon, however, Hammer saw hovering military choppers and then smoke rising from the U.N. building. Ditching his car, he hurried across a field to get within a quarter mile of the blast site as the first survivors were making their way out of the compound. It had been the largest attack on the U.N. ever, forcing Americans (and the world) to confront a new reality: the intersection of carefully calibrated terrorism with the chaos of occupied Iraq.What to do now is the...

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