Washington Post's "On Faith" asks the question, "Does Obama's religion matter?" What say ye, good and faithful Episcopal Cafe readers?
Does Obama's religion matter?
From The Washington Post
Does Obama's religion matter?
In the wake of his weekend rally, Glenn Beck kept up the drumbeat of criticism about President Obama's religion, calling it a "perversion" and saying that America "isn't recognizing his version of Christianity," which Beck characterized as "liberation theology."
Despite critique of Obama's Christianity, a recent poll showed that nearly 20% of Americans believe falsely that the president is Muslim.
Why is there so much attention on Obama's religion? Does it matter what religion the president is?
Just as a reminder, here is the text of the 1st Ammendment to the Constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Luckily for all of us, many of our "greatest" presidents served as president though they never joined a congregation or affiliated with a denomination.
For a little historical perspective, what about the religious affiliation of other presidents? While many people remember the controversy over JFK's Roman Catholicism, the story of the religious affiliation of the presidents is not a straight-line of Protestantism.
The Religious Affiliations of U.S. Presidents
From the Pew Forum
Nearly half the nation's presidents have been affiliated with the Episcopal or Presbyterian churches. John F. Kennedy remains the only Catholic to have held the nation's highest office. Only three U.S. presidents -- Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson -- have been unaffiliated with a specific religious tradition.
View the Pew Forum chart HERE.
Suite101 counts the presidents a bit differently
American Presidents' Religious Affiliations: Most Chief Executives Identified with Mainline Protestant Traditons
There were eleven Episcopalians, beginning with George Washington, and nine Presbyterians. In some cases there was cross-over. Rutherford B. Hayes identified with the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and the Methodist traditions. James K. Polk was both a Presbyterian and a Methodist, baptized on his deathbed by a Methodist bishop.
Several Presidents claimed no official affiliation with any particular church, although they attended services. Martin Van Buren worshiped at Episcopal and Dutch Reformed churches; Andrew Johnson had no affiliation but frequently attended the Catholic Church, which he vigorously defended against Know-Nothingism in the 1850s.
Both Thomas Jefferson and John Tyler subscribed to Deism. Deism rejected an active God who intervened in his creation. While President, Jefferson, in 1804, authored The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, a work he revisited and enlarged in 1820. Jefferson’s Christ was the Enlightenment “historical Jesus” who, like Socrates, was a great moral and ethical teacher, but nothing more.
Mark Silk at SpiritualPolitics believes that President Obama will be "Churching up" by joining a D.C. church after Labor Day...
According to the latest Newsweek poll, 24 percent of Americans think Obama is either Muslim or a follower of Islam. And 31 percent think it's definitely or probably true that he "sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world." I'm guessing that the Obamas will be joining a church in Washington after Labor Day.