Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The presidency requires faith?

Over at thetimesherald.com, Jim Ketchum write an article titled You need faith to be president.
Picture this: It is inauguration day, Jan. 20, 2017.
The new president prepares to take the oath of office. Except this time it’s different. The new president is an atheist — doesn’t believe in God, puts no stock in the resurrection or the afterlife and would much rather shoot a round of golf on Sunday morning after sleeping late.

How do you swear in an atheist president? Since the Bible is out, would the new leader of the free world place his or her left hand on a copy of the Constitution? Or maybe the collected works of Charles Darwin?
I'd go with the Constitution. While Darwin discovered an amazing and important truth, he isn't our Jesus.
It won’t happen the next time around, but popular opposition to an atheist president may be weakening.
I can only hope. I've actually been told that I'd (ironically) make a great preacher or politician. With how terrible our choices have been lately, I've briefly weighed the notion of public service. But it's good that Americans are growing less clueless about atheists, albeit far too slowly.
America never has elected a nonbeliever as chief executive, but it has had three who expressed no formal religious affiliation.
Actually, we may have. We just never had a president directly tell us he was a nonbeliever.
Eleven of the country’s 44 presidents have been Episcopalians. They include George Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, James Madison, Michigan’s own Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.

President Washington's religion isn't definitively known. Washington was private about religion. There are reports that he refused communion, he participated in the Anglican church, he left church services early leaving his wife behind, it is questionable that he believed in the afterlife, he never mentioned Jesus in any of his letters, and used a lot of deistic terms. He did believe, but it is very likely that he may have been a deist rather than a Christian.
Presbyterians come second. They’ve sent eight members to the White House. Among them are Woodrow Wilson (a deeply religious Princeton University professor who scholars believe might have been our most brilliant president), Grover Cleveland, Andrew Jackson, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.
 Isn't it funny how ultra-religious Republicans just love Regan, but his son, Ron Jr. is an atheist!
Four Baptists have made it: Warren Harding, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Four Methodists also won: U.S. Grant, Rutherford Hayes, William McKinley and George W. Bush.

Four Unitarians got in: John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore and William Howard Taft.
This is what clueless looks like. It would seem that the apple
doesn't fall far from the tree.
While it is likely that Adams may have been a Christian, there were some points in which he was quoted such that he sounded more like a deist. But even if he was a Christian, it was under his presidency that it was officially declared that "The United States in in no sense founded upon the Christian religion."
The Disciples of Christ gave us James A. Garfield and Lyndon Johnson.
Dutch Reform presidents were Martin Van Buren and Theodore Roosevelt.
Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon were Quakers.
Calvin Coolidge was our only Congregationalist. John F. Kennedy was the first and, so far, only Catholic and, while Barack Obama is not a member of a specific body of worshipers, he was until 2008 a member of a United Church of Christ congregation in Chicago.
There has not been a single Lutheran in the bunch. That’s OK. We Lutherans don’t like to make a big fuss. A Lutheran president probably would be happy to serve a diplomatic potluck luncheon in the East Room.
 Hmm... I see a few names conspicuously missing...
Personally, I like the idea of a president who believes in God. The job probably is the most daunting, high-stress, thankless task on the planet. And, at $400,000 a year, the pay isn’t that good.That’s why a president needs all the help he or she can get.
That's it? This article says that the presidency requires faith, yet the only thing offered is that Jim 'likes the idea' of a religious president... Talk about a weak argument! I'd like a scientifically literate president, but that doesn't mean that a president needs to know his science (clearly).

And what does money have to do with it. Atheists give to charity. We volunteer, we serve in the military... quite frankly, we're everywhere. Statistically, we may usually make more, but we also do things for free and little pay as well. I'd be more than happy with $400,000 a year while trying to lead a county in the right direction.
Oh, about those three presidents who had no formal religious affiliation: Besides Andrew Johnson, the other two were Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.Come to think of it, they probably would have made pretty good Lutherans.
How do you figure? Jefferson was oft quoted on religion. He was almost certainly a Deist. He even wrote his own version of the Bible  where he left Jesus as no more than a moral human teacher, and removed all the supernatural parts. He did not believe in Christianity or the Christian miracles, so that would get in the way of being a Lutheran, I'd say.

Lincoln was another interesting character. While he is quoted saying things that sound rather Christian, he has also been quoted as saying:
"My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."
"The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession."
"Oh, that is some of Seward's nonsense, and it pleases the fools." (in response to a question about his religious Thanksgiving speech)
"There was the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose with few exceptions, got all of that Church. My wife had some relations in the Presbyterian churches, and some in the Episcopal churches; and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no Christian ought to vote for me because I belonged to no Church, and was suspected of being a Deist and had talked of fighting a duel."
To me, Lincoln sounded like either a Deist or non-believer that spoke in Christian tones for political reasons. But again, how could a non-Christian make a good Lutheran?

And finally, some historians actually consider Johnson to be the least religious president (I'm not so sure that is a very accurate conclusion). He sometimes attended Methodist, Baptist, and Catholic services. He considered himself a generic follower of the Bible and Jesus though... So I'd say that Jefferson and Lincoln were the least religious. And wouldn't you know, it was Jefferson that brought us that valuable wall of separation between church and state, and Lincoln did what God never thought to do, and freed the slaves.

So no, I don't see a need for religious belief to be a president or even a good one.

-Brain Hulk

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