Romney Isn’t the First: Our History of Non-Christian Presidents


I was at a softball game with a few of my friends a couple of days ago. The election came up, as it has a tendency to do, and I asked them who they would vote for. I got a Romney and an Obama, and one kid who said he wasn’t going to vote. He said didn’t like Obama, but Romney wasn’t a Christian, and for him that was a deal breaker.

He’s right one thing. Mormonism is no more Christianity than Scientology. But the assertion that Romney wouldn’t be a good president because he’s not Christian is simply false. In fact, we’ve already had several presidents who many would not consider Christian.

Aside from the distracting rumors of Obama’s secret practice of Islam (Only 14% of Alabama primary voters thought Obama was Christian according to a recent survey), the United States has already seen at least three religiously “deviant” presidents, if that is the appropriate term. What’s more, all three were Republican, and at least one was one of the best presidents we’ve had ever.

Both Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon were Quakers, a cult known for strange worship ceremonies that involve members literally quaking with the Holy Spirit. Some Quakers are atheist; all reject the sacraments as a part of the faith. In many parts of the Christian world, Quakers are not considered Christian.

Jehovah’s Witnesses are not Christians either. In the words of a former member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses states, as a member of the cult:

“[You] will not be taught the gospel of the bible. Your new gospel, or good news, will be that Jesus Christ returned to power in 1914 and established his heavenly kingdom. Your new gospel will involve telling people about current world problems and conditions, and how these conditions will eventually culminate with the coming of Armageddon. And finally, your new gospel will consist of telling people that the Watchtower Society is God’s only mouthpiece, and that they must obey everything the Society teaches in order to survive Armageddon.”

Actual Christians reject these teachings as deceptive and blatantly false. And yet one of our most beloved presidents was a Jehovah’s Witness. Dwight D Eisenhower, war hero and champion of capitalism, grew up as a “JW” and even had his house used as a meeting place. Few on the right would reject him as successful leader, and some would even say Nixon or Hoover did a good job as well. The point is that, while the religious right has been trying to paint Romney as unworthy because of his religion, we have in the past elected tremendously strong non-Christian presidents, and quite a few terrible Christian ones as well (James Buchanan or Jimmy Carter, for example).

While Romney isn’t Christian, everyone can see he has incredibly strong family values, unlike the Catholic Mr. Gingrich, for example. More importantly, he has the financial and administrative background to turn America around, something no one else in the field can claim – and for that reason alone, he has my vote.

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17 comments on “Romney Isn’t the First: Our History of Non-Christian Presidents
  1. Orin Porter says:

    Well, at least with the JW’s, all of this won’t be an issue… becuase, according to their doctrine, they won’t be runnning for President.

    Besides, I think you’re missing the point. The candidate’s religion isn’t the issue, although many are arguing that it reflects on the character of the candidate (agreed), it is more about the potential for breaching the wall of separation of church and state – in the case of Romney and the LDS Church.

    Voters are concerned.

    • I’m glad you brought this up because I was largely unaware of this sentiment beforehand. My response is that such fears have about as much merit as fears that JFK would take orders from the Pope after being elected.

  2. Orin Porter says:

    Good point. However, I think there are legitimate differences to bring about concern and suspicion.

    JFK’s religion, and their leadership, was based in Rome, Italy. Romney’s is in SLC, Utah, USA.
    JFK was a typical member, who never took an oath for his church. Romney is a High Priest who has taken an oath to consecrate all that he has to the LDS Church.

    To some, these differences are not minor. Perhaps for an elected office of mayor or congressman, the religion issue isn’t too much on the radar screen. Yet, the President’s office brings a completely different scrutiny level. And, as long as Mr. Romney does not provide answers that address the natural concerns many have, I suspect he’ll continue to struggle over the religion issue.

    • These are also valid points, to which I reply that distance probably isn’t a big deal and that the CLDS believes all members to be clergy (I think… might be wrong on that)

      But to inform everyone of these facts is challenging and I agree Romney will struggle in the South especially because of his religion.

  3. Anonymous B. Jackson says:

    You forgot about our largely deist founding fathers.

  4. Anonymous B. Jackson says:

    Deism is extremely far from “modern mainstream Christianity.” They disagree with the idea of supernatural miracles and an interventionist god. Basically, god made the earth and then left it alone.

  5. Anonymous B. Jackson says:

    Hell, Jefferson said this:

    “And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.”

    You should use the founding father’s lack of religiosity to bolster your argument that it doesn’t take a Christian to be a good president.

  6. dearfriends says:

    The basic question is: Do you believe in a God that is a transcent God? Or do you believe in a God that is Immient? That’s how religions are deliniated. All religions have some adherence to the belief that encompasses the commandmant of “Love thy Neighbor.” What a sad commentary that we do not have the ability to understand and respect the Light of God in everyone. Sad that we have to try to place our individual beliefs about God and religion above others’ beliefs and practices. Sad that we remain ueducated as to the beauty of other’s beliefs. Barb

    • Thanks for you input Barb! I’d like to respond by asking you a question that I know might be a little off-topic. Do you think that all belief systems are equally beautiful? I ask because I know that many people believe the tenents of some faiths and cults violate those of others or are just plain wrong. Would a belief system that rejects all other belief systems be just as beautiful that accepts all of them? Just curious to know what you think.

      • dearfriends says:

        Back on topic as a reply: When people believe in and practice the basic tenet/commandment of “Love Thy Neighbor” and do their best to represent this by being “God’s Hands” and “God’s Heart”–who is to judge which belief system of practiced dogma is correct? For those that are non-believers in a higher power, their moral compass of love, kindness and empathy place them within the same “Do unto others” as believers. Again, sad that we can not accept the differences of others, even when offered in love and kindness. Thanks for asking, Barb

      • What about those who’s religion or belief system rejects the idea of acceptance of all people though?

      • dearfriends says:

        Do you know of a religion that has the creed or dogma to not offer kindness to strangers? To treat others as enemies? Individual beliefs of non-acceptance or tolerance of others are often cloaked in a religion that does not support this extreme belief. Individual interpretation of a religion’s written word allows for extreme variances in beliefs, which is often used to support extremist views and actions. All religions have extremist views within that religion. Perhaps it would be wiser to support the “goodness” found within the religion rather than to alienate the religion due to those whose personal extremist actions have harmed others. Religion does not create harmful actions, man does. It is interesting to note that of the cluster of religions known as “Peace” religions, there is relatively small membership. Thanks for this conversation, Barb

      • Satanism would be one example of a religion with the goal of the destruction of people’s lives or property. Other cults have similiar intent.

      • dearfriends says:

        To speak of major world religions and then bring in Satanism to show how the extremists have parlayed the basic message of “God’s Heart” into one of paranoia and distrust is very sad. To go to the extreme of including Satanism in a discussion regarding the world’s major religions only leads the discussion away from inclusion and promotes the continued biases of the uniformed. Perhaps you would prefer to not attend to our growth in understanding and thus a decrease in the religion rhetoric that permeates our world humanity. What is your objective? Barb

      • I’m merely responding to the question you posed earlier in which you ask for a religion that doesn’t meet the criteria of spreading love. I have no ulterior motive except to find truth through debate. I like taking positions that help us analyze a situation more critically.

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