Has there ever been a President of the United States who was not a ‘Christian’?
Compiled by Michael Jeshurun
Below are some of the opinions of Americans and others on this matter.
But what do YOU personally think? Can you think of a President whom you hope to see in Heaven; who truly knew the sovereign discriminating God of the Bible as you do. A real bona-fide born again Christian who knew the Lord and had ‘the root of the matter in him’? [Job 19:28] Please tell us what you think . . . .
Here are some opinions . . . . .
“A lot depends on what you consider “Christian”.
John Adams and John Quincy Adams were both Unitarians – which modern Fundamentalist Christians don’t consider to be “Christian”.
John Kennedy was Roman Catholic – which many Protestants at the time (1960) did not consider to be “Christian”.
Many Presidents such as George Washington were Episcopalians – and less than six months ago on Quora I was told that since I attend an Episcopalian church, I am not a “Christian”.
So, much depends on how you define “Christians”.
“The best way to understand the cultural scenario is to realize that there are TWO DIFFERENT types of Christianity. One is a movement of people who want to live and be like Jesus. The other (and far more common, far more powerful) is a civil and political religion that is SIMPLY NAMED CHRISTIANITY. The civil political religion named Christianity is addicted to both political power and violence, and thus finds the message of Jesus offensive. When they encounter the OTHER kind of Christian – the kind that actually believes in following Jesus – they have an immediate need to persecute them in some form or another.” – Richard White – an American citizen since birth
“There has never been a President of the United States that was clearly and definitively NOT CHRISTIAN. There have been a few where it’s been a little unclear, though.
Thomas Jefferson did not believe in the miraculous and supernatural elements of Christianity, and may not have believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ. He was, however, an advocate for the philosophical wisdom of Jesus’ teachings and never explicitly denied being Christian. Alexander Hamilton explicitly accused Jefferson of being an atheist, a charge which (like so many others) Jefferson neither confirmed nor denied.
Lincoln had an unusual set of religious beliefs, wherein he seemed to believe in a righteous god but not in an afterlife. Whether he believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ or not is not clear from the historical record.
Many US Presidents have been accused of lacking true Christian conversion or of failing to follow the example of Jesus Christ. Depending on what criteria you use to determine who is and who is not Christian and how much credence you give these accusations (which often have ideological motives behind them), this may or may not exclude them from the definition. Ultimately, though, you can only cast shadows. You can’t actually prove that any particular US President was not a Christian.” – Brady Postma
“Jefferson definitely did not belong to any known denomination of Christianity. He said he was a sect of one. He didn’t believe in any of the miracles in the bible, the trinity, that Jesus rose from the dead, he rejected the idea of a revealed word of god. By most definitions this is not Christian. He did call himself a Deist. Many conservative Christians at the time called that atheist. He seems to have believed in a Spinoza or watchmaker sort of god who set the laws of nature and did not interfere or communicate. It is not clear exactly which. He did think god existed, and gave humans reason and rights. He put together a bible which left out all the stuff he thought was made up including the Resurrection. He created it because he thought Jesus said wise things but was not divine. He was quite anti-clerical and probably could not be elected today from the quotes about his feelings on religion. Referring to protestant clergy in the US he said:
“the serious enemies are the priests of the different religious sects, to whose spells on the human mind its improvement is ominous.” – Eric Painter
“Meaning what exactly? Self proclaimed to be Christian? Attended a Christian church? Prays to Jesus? Believed that Christ was their savior?
“I don’t know if Barack Obama is a very religious person. He of course has to say he is, ’cause he’s running for president in the United States of America. So he’s gotta say this. But I hope he’s lying.” – Bill Maher
Every President has claimed to be Christian. A pet peeve of mine is how the media lately has thrown around the term “evangelical Christian”. Looking at the individual definition of those words, the phrase would seem to be redundant. All Christians are evangelical. However, it has become a dog whistle to separate people who claim to be Christian from people who believe to be Christian.” – William Frantz
“Probably. Jefferson didn’t seem to be Christian. Lincoln might not have been. I doubt that Reagan cared about religion at all. Several others seem to have been minimally observant or gone through the formalities for political reasons.” – David Jensen
“There has not been a US president that has definitively stated that they were not a Christian, ie, that they were atheist or believed in another religion. At least historically, it has not been a smart thing to do if you want to be President, i.e., at least some of the voters demand that the US President show some sign of Christian faith. However, the US has a strong tradition of separation of church and state, protects the rights of people to practice any religion, and is also becoming more secular. Historically, some US presidents did not belong to any organized religion and I would expect this to become more prevalent over time. It would certainly be a milestone moment if the US elected someone who explicitly was either an atheist or explicitly belonged to another religion.” – Korak Mitra
“No. However, Abraham Lincoln, who was raised a Protestant (a hard shell Baptist to be exact), was a deist as an adult.” – Marlon Moncrieffe
Please tell us what YOU think . . .
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but TRY THE SPIRITS whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world!” [1John 4:1]