Presidents and religion

Arthur Schlesinger Jr. explains how the Bush White House is the first to use religion in its particular way.

The White House Wasn’t Always God’s House

George Washington was a nominal Anglican who rarely stayed for Communion. John Adams was a Unitarian, which Trinitarians abhorred as heresy. Thomas Jefferson, denounced as an atheist, was actually a deist who detested organized religion and who produced an expurgated version of the New Testament with the miracles eliminated. Jefferson and James Madison, a nominal Episcopalian, were the architects of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. James Monroe was another Virginia Episcopalian. John Quincy Adams was another Massachusetts Unitarian. Andrew Jackson, pressed by clergy members to proclaim a national day of fasting to seek God’s help in combating a cholera epidemic, replied that he could not do as they wished “without feeling that I might in some degree disturb the security which religion now enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the general government.”

This particular statement should be proclaimed far and wide:

“The most dangerous people in the world today are those who persuade themselves that they are executing the will of the Almighty.”

(Note: I disagree a bit, however, about Reagan and Carter and others never using their faith to get support or votes… I recall Carter’s being a Sunday-school teacher being used in his favor by his campaign, to say ‘here’s an honest God-fearing guy who isn’t going to lie like Nixon’ … but still, when it came to making actual decisions about the nation, none of these others openly proclaimed that they were doing whatever came to them in prayer.)

Author: Andrew Hinton

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