Voting By Faith in 2012: The Founding Fathers Couldn’t Get Elected Today

Evangelicals crack me up. They really do. I have friends and family who are Evangelical and they say the darnedest things. There may be no two more distant points on the religious spectrum than a Pagan and an Evangelical, particularly when it comes to politics. Right now Evangelicals seem to be in a tizzy over whether or not they can support a *gasp* Mormon for president.

I know this is a big deal to them, because they see Mormons as so theologically different from themselves, even though Mormon values fit right into the Religious Right’s framework. Personally the only thing Romney’s religion has me concerned about more than any other candidate is he might be more likely to place taxes on soda, coffee, tea and alcohol.

Some of the arguments against Romney are similar to those used against JFK, and we found having a Roman Catholic president did not turn the US into a papal state. The whole religious litmus test seems to be based on some vague assumption that past presidents were all of a similar stripe of religious affiliation. Not true at all.

12 of our presidents were Episcopalians, which has always been a denominational minority in the US and seemingly tinged with intellectualism. Among such “American Anglicans” as Washington, Madison, Monroe and both Roosevelt’s do we find some of the most influential presidents in all history. There is nothing similar about a Baptist and Episcopal service, as I learned as a young Baptist girl suddenly confronted with the “strange rituals” of Episcopal worship. Yet, despite religious differences, my staunchly Baptist grandmother adored FDR and didn’t have much use for those Quakers: Hoover and Nixon.

The Presbyterians can boast of Jackson, who was responsible for the Trail of Tears. Ulysses S. Grant was raised Presbyterian, which may or may not account for his role in the Indian Wars, although he became Methodist as an adult, like George W. Bush. Former five-star general Dwight D. Eisenhower was raised Jehovah’s Witness, yet converted to the Presbyterian church, which seems to have a tradition of military-minded presidents. Oh wait, but Woodrow Wilson resisted becoming involved in WWI with all his might, and yet was a Presbyterian…

Garfield, LBJ and Reagan were Disciples of Christ, rejecting man-made creeds and offering communion to anyone of any denomination who felt called by Jesus to it.

Andrew Johnson, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln claimed no religious affiliation. Although Jefferson had some interaction with the Episcopal church and flirted with Unitarianism and Deism, Lincoln never attended church services. Like, ever. Yeah, and he’s hardly considered a slacker president.

Congregationalists, Dutch Reformed, Baptists but no Pagans among the presidents. Or, well, we do have a few we could claim by a stretch of logic.

Unitarians joined with the Universalists in 1961 to create the Unitarian Universalist Church we today affectionately call the UU’s. Tucked safely in the inclusive branches of this freethinking denomination lay CUUPS: Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. Formed originally in 1778, it’s one of the oldest denominations founded in the US and ordained women all the way back in 1868. The denomination was founded partly on the teachings of Origen, who was greatly influenced by Plato, Plotinus, Pythagoras, and other Pagan philosophers. He saw scripture as allegory and believed in the end, even demons get to Heaven. Which Presidents were crazy, Pagan-influenced, freethinking and theologically inclusive Unitarians? Just Taft, Fillmore, John Quincy Adams and his dad: John Adams.

Politically Conservative, Theologically Liberal and All American.

Yup, one the most influential Founding Fathers, chief instigator of the Revolution, the guy who helped Jefferson draft the Declaration of Independence, nominated Washington to be commander-in-chief, nominated John Marshall to the Supreme Court, helped draft the Massachusetts state constitution, actively engaged in crafting a strong government in those early precarious days under Federalist principals and was known for being a conservative champion of republicanism. When we talk about building a nation, this was the guy with a trowel carefully laying the bricks of our country’s foundation.

If Adams attended service today he’d be surrounded by values very familiar to him, and might be sharing the pew with a Pagan or two.

Does religion matter when it comes to electing a president? I think values matter more, and in Adams case values were key. He wasn’t a perfect president but he did pretty darn good when you consider what he was up against. He was a shining example of what America should be, and he wouldn’t get elected today. In a country founded on the separation of church and state, John Adams is too theologically liberal for the Oval Office.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral
    authority and character increase as the importance of the position
    increases.” –John Adams

    “Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” — John Adams

    “Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a
    self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and
    choice and power.” — John Adams

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral
    authority and character increase as the importance of the position
    increases.” –John Adams

    “Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write.” — John Adams

    “Liberty, according to my metaphysics is a
    self-determining power in an intellectual agent. It implies thought and
    choice and power.” — John Adams

  • Hcrowson81

    Sooo very true! Adams all the way!!

  • Hcrowson81

    Sooo very true! Adams all the way!!

  • PaganGuest<3

    “It
    does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no
    God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  ~Thomas Jefferson

  • PaganGuest<3

    “It
    does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no
    God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”  ~Thomas Jefferson

  • http://twitter.com/PCPPodcast PaganCenteredPodcast

    Thanks for taking the time out to research this.

    I think in another year or so, I’ll be able to take any Pagan theological topic and say “there’s a Patheos article about that!” and I think that’s pretty darn cool.

    - Dave

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    Thanks for taking the time out to research this.

    I think in another year or so, I’ll be able to take any Pagan theological topic and say “there’s a Patheos article about that!” and I think that’s pretty darn cool.

    - Dave

  • http://lifencompass.com Scott K Smith

    that was refreshing. Thank you. 

  • http://lifencompass.com Scott @ Lifencompass

    that was refreshing. Thank you. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/womanbei April Ayers

    Awesome.  Thanks!!!

  • AprilAyers

    Awesome.  Thanks!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FPVSDJNKK4OJBNKJUTZFJCGRFU Camille Thompson

    I LOVE YOUR PAGE. peace to all people in all lands at all times.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FPVSDJNKK4OJBNKJUTZFJCGRFU Camille Thompson

    I LOVE YOUR PAGE. peace to all people in all lands at all times.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FPVSDJNKK4OJBNKJUTZFJCGRFU Camille Thompson

    I LOVE YOUR PAGE

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_FPVSDJNKK4OJBNKJUTZFJCGRFU Camille Thompson

    I LOVE YOUR PAGE

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    The fact that none of these men could get elected today highlights the enormous social and intellectual regression our society has undergone since the Enlightenment.

    The nuances and truth of what they believed and practiced as religions are lost on David Barton and other “historians” who insist that all the founders were really Wall Builder Evangelicals because they had the term “God” in their speeches from time to time.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PMTLR3IIGKPHZ2YNU3PDXWK4WA Kenneth

    The fact that none of these men could get elected today highlights the enormous social and intellectual regression our society has undergone since the Enlightenment.

    The nuances and truth of what they believed and practiced as religions are lost on David Barton and other “historians” who insist that all the founders were really Wall Builder Evangelicals because they had the term “God” in their speeches from time to time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7926848 Kevin Foytik

    Very good analysis. Unlike our early presidents, many of our recent presidents, representatives, and senators have taken a disturbing road toward using their power to validate and spread their religion. Few things strike me as more anti-democratic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=7926848 Kevin Foytik

    Very good analysis. Unlike our early presidents, many of our recent presidents, representatives, and senators have taken a disturbing road toward using their power to validate and spread their religion. Few things strike me as more anti-democratic.


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