Both Joe Carter and Sarah Pulliam Bailey note this article by Doyle McManus in the Los Angeles Times on the end of the mainline Protestant domination of the American presidency. But what I take from it is the prospect that we could theoretically be getting the first Lutheran president! That would be Michele Bachman, if she runs and if she wins. (And aren’t Lutherans mainline Protestants, just the only ones that still hold to a Biblical orthodoxy?)
Of the 44 U.S. presidents, all but a handful have been affiliated with a relatively narrow list of traditional Protestant denominations.
Eleven were Episcopalians (12 if you count Thomas Jefferson, whose adult beliefs are a subject of debate), eight were Presbyterians, four were Methodists and four were Baptists. Others included Congregationalists, Dutch Reformed and Disciples of Christ.
President Obama attended Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, a congregation with traditional Protestant roots despite its untraditional pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. In Washington, Obama has attended services at mostly black Protestant churches.The only chief executive whose roots were clearly outside that mainstream tradition was John F. Kennedy, a Roman Catholic.
But among the leading candidates for this year’s Republican presidential nomination, not one is a member of the Protestant denominations that for so long have dominated American political culture.
Two of the potential candidates are Mormons (former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr.); one is a member of an interdenominational evangelical church (former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty); two others are Catholics (former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Sen. Rick Santorum). Rep. Michele Bachmann, who says she’s considering the race, worships at an evangelical Lutheran church; if elected, she’d be the first Lutheran president.
But no matter who wins from this list, it won’t be an Episcopalian, a Presbyterian or a Methodist.
What does this mean?