Could Abe Honestly Win in Today's Religion-Packed Vote?
Byline: Burt Constable
We are a religion-conscious nation where a photo of Christian Barack Obama in Somali garb, or the use of his middle name of Hussein, can fuel a theological firestorm, or at least provide fodder for talk radio folks.
According to some polls, American voters would never elect a Muslim. Or a Mormon such as Mitt Romney.
Some say John McCain isn't Christian enough. Others say Mike Huckabee is too Christian. Hillary Clinton is Methodist, but when has a candidate ever ridden the Methodist vote to victory?
Since religious affiliation can play an important role in American politics, wouldn't it be great if our next president practices the same religion as great presidents such as Abraham Lincoln or Founding Father Thomas Jefferson?
Uh, what were those guys' religions again?
With the first name of Abraham, Lincoln could have been Jewish. Or Muslim. Or Christian. The White House biography of Honest Abe notes that Lincoln's speeches often mentioned God, but it doesn't list a religion for him. Some scholarly sources list Lincoln's religious preference as "no specific." A few argue that Lincoln was Christian, while others say we can't declare Lincoln a believer in Jesus Christ.
Lincoln sometimes went to a Presbyterian church with his wife, but he wasn't a member. With a vague religious background like that, how did Abe ever get elected?
Jefferson is officially listed as a deist and, as such, discounted all of the miracles in the Bible. He often was accused of being an atheist, and at one point wrote, "I am of a sect by myself."
Wow. Does that sound like a candidate who could beat McCain, Obama or Clinton?
"I think Jefferson would be totally unacceptable to Christians today," says Ron Miller, chair of the Religion Department at Lake Forest College. An author and lecturer, Miller in 1975 helped found Common Ground, a group that seeks interfaith dialogue as well as a better understanding of the world's cultural, religious and spiritual traditions. …