The Holy White House


They say, America was founded by Prudes – a community of hard line Catholics who had had enough of their “promiscuous and fickle minded cousins” in Europe. Contrary to the recent image, America has always been a conservative and thoroughly religious society. So much so that they make it a point that an atheist is never (ever!) sworn in as their President. Religion has always been the X factor as far as American Presidential race is concerned, combined ofcourse with free market economics!
The particular religious affiliations of U.S. Presidents can affect their prospects, shape their visions of society, how they want to lead it and mould their stances on policy matters. For example, a contributing factor to Alfred E. Smith’s defeat in the presidential election of 1928 was allegedly his Roman Catholic faith.
Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and many other presidents were accused of being infidels during election campaigns, and several other times during their tenure. Throughout much of the course of American history, the religion of past American presidents has been the subject of contentious debate. Some devout Americans have been disinclined to believe that there may have been agnostic or even non-Christian presidents, especially amongst the Founding Fathers of the United States. On the other hand, secular-minded Americans have downplayed the prominence that religion played in the private and political lives of the Founding Fathers. However, it must be remembered that seculars have always been less in numbers!Episcopalians are extraordinarily well represented among the presidents. This is in part because the Episcopal Church was the American branch of the Church of England, prior to the American Revolution, and was the state religion in some states (such as New York and Virginia). The first seven presidentswith Episcopalian affiliation were also the first seven from Virginia. Many people are interested not only in the religious affiliations of the presidents, but also in their inner beliefs. Some presidents, such as Madison and Monroe, were extremely reluctant to discuss their own religious views at all. In a recent advertisement by Republican Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, he wished voters a Merry Christmas, and said, “What really matters is the celebration of the birth of Christ”. Critics accused him of exploiting the issue of religion, which he, but obviously, denied. According to the Associated Press, on NBC’s Meet the Press on December 31, 2007, Huckabee “stood by” a 1998 comment in which he had said, “I hope we answer the alarm clock and take this nation back for Christ.” Huckabee told NBC that his comment was “appropriate to be said to a gathering of Southern Baptists”.In general, it is difficult to define with any certainty the faiths of presidents especially because no one can truly be sure what relationship (if any) exists between another person and his deity. Furthermore, presidents, as public officials, have generally tried to remain within the mainstream of American religious trends.Numerous presidents have changed their affiliations and/or their beliefs during their lives.For now, all we can wish the presidential candidates is – Let thou be enlightened and be risen to the HOLY WHITE HOUSE.Prateek Kapil