Has there ever been a President of the United States who was not a ‘Christian’?

american-president

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]

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2 thoughts on “Has there ever been a President of the United States who was not a ‘Christian’?

  1. Dear Michael

    Several Years ago I obtained a book titled “The Diary of Abraham Lincoln”

    On many occasions his entries in the Diary were a floundering faith and on

    occasions his entries gave an assurance in the resurrected Lord Jesus. I no

    longer have this Diary as I gave it to a local Pastor. But I did find this online

    and would like to pass along. Thought it might not look so dim as this man

    openly confessed and believed in his heart the Lord Jesus. I can’t even

    imagine how any President could be so blatant and brazen as to think he could

    handle this world and all its evils and crisis within one’s self.

    God Bless

    L / Dodi

    Abraham Lincoln and His Faith in Jesus Christ

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_trNXEJH1uDA/SU6myCuwPxI/AAAAAAAAAhw/SbOXDMZ0jGw/s320/Abraham_Lincoln.jpgThe late D. James Kennedy once preached a message that gripped me emotionally. Dr. Kennedy demonstrated how Abraham Lincoln entered the Presidency as a man intellectually acquainted with the Christian faith, but void of a personal relationship with Christ. In 1863 President Lincoln endured the pain of losing his own young son to death and felt the pressure of catostophic casualties among Union soldiers. While walking the killing fields of Gettysburg, the President himself was born from above. To begin this week of Christmas, I offer the excellent message of Dr. Kennedy regarding Abraham Lincoln and the President’s transforming faith in Jesus Christ. Notice the little known but prescient words of the President to his wife at the moment of his assassination. Merry Christmas to all my friends who love the name of Jesus Christ.

    TEXT: “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1

    The most perfect speech ever uttered by mortal man was delivered on the battlefield of Gettysburg. It has been learned by unnumbered millions of children in school. It is actually an extended personification, where America is personified as a man who is conceived, born, dedicated, lives his life, engages in dangerous and perhaps mortal struggles, is born anew, and lives thereafter gloriously. Abraham Lincoln is immortal in the minds and memories of his countrymen, for on the battlefield at Gettysburg, this is what he said:

    Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    The world noted, far more than he ever thought, the words that were spoken there, though Lincoln’s invitation to speak was an afterthought. The orator of the day, of course, was Edward Everett, perhaps the greatest in the land, who spoke for two hours. What did he say? No one knows. Lincoln spoke for two minutes and no one has forgotten! Remarkable, indeed. But the question I would ask of you today is: Is Lincoln immortal in any other way than merely in the memory of his countrymen? That, indeed, is a great honor, but it is little felt by those that are dead. Is he immortal in the far greater sense, next to which immortality and the memory of his people is but a pale substitute? Is he immortal in the real sense of everlasting life which Jesus Christ and Christ only can give to a man, or to put it another way:

    Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?

    Now I, in preaching this message, am not endeavoring to merely exhume the bones of Lincoln for some kind of belated autopsy. But rather, this is another way of proclaiming anew that Gospel message with which he struggled all of his life in the hope that as we emphasize and sympathize with his struggles with the great verities of life and death and eternity, that some of you will ask yourselves the deeper and more relevant question: Am I a Christian? Are you?

    Consider well the sixteenth President of the United States. Like the nation he described in its conception, Lincoln was conceived in the midst of great religious fervor. There was a revival going on in Kentucky in 1809 of the type associated with the evangelist Peter Cartwright. (By the way, when Lincoln was grown, he entered into a political contest with Cartwright in running for the same office.) But in the midst of a prayer meeting, young Tom Lincoln leaped to his feet in the midst of this religious fervor and began to dance around and sing. A moment or two later, a young lady by the name of Nancy, did the same thing. They were soon introduced, engaged, and shortly thereafter married. In the midst of that religious fervor, Abraham Lincoln was born to Tom Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Certainly a spiritually, encouraging beginning. His mother was a godly woman who sat Lincoln upon her knees day after day after day and read to him the Scriptures and encouraged him to remember it. Particularly, she encouraged him to learn the Ten Commandments. (Every parent should certainly have their children memorize the Ten Commandments.)

    They had a profound effect upon Lincoln’s life. He said that whenever he was tempted to do something wrong, he could still hear the clear tones of his mother’s voice saying, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage . . . Thou shalt have no other gods before me . . . Thou shalt not steal . . . Thou shalt not kill . . . Thou shalt not bear false witness . . . ” Abraham Lincoln became known, believe it or not, as the most honest lawyer east of China. As a young prairie lawyer in Illinois, when his opponents forgot or did not know some points in arguments, he would remind them. Once, when he was a shopkeeper, he walked for miles to return an overpayment of only a few cents by one of the customers. Lincoln also had a great regard for the Sabbath, as well. At one time during the war, when he was President, he went to Falmouth and there he visited with the general, who told him he was going to begin on Sunday the March to Richmond. Richmond was the heart of the Confederacy, its capital, and this well could mean the end of the war, for which Lincoln had so fervently prayed for so long. But the general brought it up because he knew of the opposition the President had toward beginning military initiatives on the Sabbath day. The President was silent for a long while. Then he said, “General take a good rest and begin on Monday morning.”

    Lincoln was never a member of any church. Would that the members of this church had as high a regard for the Sabbath as Lincoln did. I would like to express my appreciation to many writers who have contributed to this message. I have read thousands of stories about Lincoln, perused his entire total works, and numbers of biographies. I particularly appreciate William J. Johnson’s excellent biography of Lincoln. My appreciation to the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington for sending me copies of historical documents and affidavits from their archives, and to the late F. W. Boreham, the great Australian preacher, whose Outline I would like to borrow for this message, and also, many others who have brought to my attention new information.

    THE AGE OF IRON

    Boreham says there were three mountains Lincoln climbed where his life was changed. The first stage he described as the Age of Iron, where he “climbed Mount Sinai with Moses” in his effort to keep the command- ments of God. He had learned the Ten Commandments on his mother’s knee. Those commandments influenced his life in such an incredible way that he gave himself to studying them. When Lincoln was only nine, his mother sickened, and before she died she called him to her side and said to him, “I am going away from you now Abraham and shall not return. I know that you will be a good boy and that you will be kind to your father. I want you to live as I have taught you to love your Heavenly Father,” and then her last words, “and keep His commandments.”

  2. Is the pope Catholic? Politically, no one in American history could have ever been elected apart from being in the “Christian” culture. From Mrs Clinton speaking with a Black Southern drawl in a Baptist church to Mr Trump’s assertions that no one reads the Bible more than he does or that eating drinking his wine and eating the “little cracker” makes him feel good. This cultural aspect is still an unspoken qualification for president.

    The question of personal faith in Christ alone as Saviour, I think, has disqualified many – including the man or woman to be elected this week.

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