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Examining the Religious Traditions of All 44 U.S. Presidents

By Mike Tigas from Spokane, WA, United States (Mount RushmoreUploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Mike Tigas from Spokane, WA, United States (Mount RushmoreUploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Pew Research Center has compiled a list of the religions of U.S. Presidents throughout history.

The U.S. Constitution has expressly forbidden any religious requirement or test to hold public office. However, most American presidents have openly flaunted their religious leanings. Many of them belonged to prominent Protestant denominations. This trend continues to be active in the 2016 presidential race. Except Democrat Bernie Sanders (he was born to a Jewish family), all presidential hopefuls are Christians. Like in the past, a majority of them are Protestants.

Examining the Religious Traditions of All 44 U.S. Presidents[/tweetthis]

All the present competing presidential candidates are known to speak openly when it came to faith making a positive impact on their lives. There is a good reason to do so: a recent survey points out the fact that a major proportion of Americans regard the faith of their candidates as an important factor during vote time. Almost 50 percent of American adults hold the view that a presidential hopeful should hold the same religious belief as them. About 40 percent of them say religious discussion should be more. Sanders is the sole candidate who has portrayed himself as not specifically religious. About 20 percent of the sample population says religion is excessive in the present climate.

From a historical perspective, approximately a quarter of the total U.S. presidential count belonged to the Episcopal Church. This is the U.S. successor to the Church of England. Notable presidents following this branch of faith include George Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and James Madison. The Presbyterian Church comes close after the Episcopalians, with presidents like Andrew Jackson, Ronald Reagan and Woodrow Wilson. The Presbyterian Church traces back its origin to Scotland. All the three presidents mentioned were of Scots-Irish ancestry.

Pew Research Center

Although Roman Catholicism has been the biggest religious denomination in the United States, the list of Catholic American Presidents has only one member, John F. Kennedy. After Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the only Catholic who was a presidential nominee was John Kerry, who was riding an important party ticket.

On the other side, two iconic American presidents did not show any kind of formal religious affiliation. Thomas Jefferson lost his Orthodox Christian faith during his early years. He however continued to believe a kind of impersonal God as the creator. Jefferson is known for editing New Testament by deleting any reference to any miracle. He only left in his New Testament version the teachings of Jesus. Abraham Lincoln, the second non-religious president, never joined a church.


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