Religious affiliations of United States Presidents

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The religious affiliations of Presidents of the United States can affect their electability, shape their visions of society and how they want to lead it, and shape their stances on policy matters. Thomas Jefferson,[1] Abraham Lincoln,[2][3] and even William Howard Taft[4] were accused of being atheists during election campaigns, while others to hold the office used faith as a defining aspect of their campaigns and tenure.

Throughout much of American history, the religion of past American presidents has been the subject of contentious debate. Some devout Christian Americans have been disinclined to believe that there may have been non-religious or even non-Christian presidents, especially amongst the Founding Fathers of the United States. As a result, apocryphal stories of a religious nature have appeared over the years about particularly beloved presidents such as Washington and Lincoln.

Almost all of the presidents can be characterized as Christian, at least by formal membership. Some were Unitarian or unaffiliated with a specific religious body. Some are thought to have been deists, or irreligious. No president thus far has been a Jew, a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Hindu, a Sikh or an adherent of any other specifically non-Christian religion.

Contents

Formal affiliation

Most presidents have been formal members of a particular church or religious body, and a specific affiliation can be assigned to every president from Garfield on. For many earlier presidents, however, formal church membership was forestalled until they left office; and in several cases a president never joined any church. Conversely, though every president from Washington to John Quincy Adams can be definitely assigned membership in an Anglican or Unitarian body, the significance of these affiliations is often downplayed as unrepresentative of their true beliefs.

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