We Shall Answer to God
"And may that Being who is supreme over all, the Patron of Order, the Fountain of Justice, and the Protector in all ages of the world of virtuous liberty, continue His blessing upon this nation and its Government and give it all possible success and duration consistent with the ends of His providence."
"Finally, it is my most fervent prayer to that Almighty Being before whom I now stand, and who has kept us in His hands from the infancy of our Republic to the present day, that He will so overrule all my intentions and actions and inspire the hearts of my fellow-citizens that we may be preserved from dangers of all kinds and continue forever a united and happy people."
"I should not dare to enter upon my path of duty…did I not permit myself humbly to hope for the sustaining support of an ever-watchful and beneficent Providence."
—MARTIN VAN BUREN
"I deem the present occasion sufficiently important and solemn to justify me in expressing to my fellow-citizens a profound reverence for the Christian religion and a thorough conviction that sound morals, religious liberty, and a just sense of religious responsibility are essentially connected with all true and lasting happiness …"
—WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON
"I can express no better hope for my country than that the kind Providence which smiled upon our fathers may enable their children to preserve the blessings they have inherited."
"In assuming responsibilities so vast I fervently invoke the aid of that Almighty Ruler of the Universe in whose hands are the destinies of nations and of men to guard this Heaven-favored land against the mischiefs which without His guidance might arise from an unwise public policy… ."
"And let us not trust to human effort alone, but humbly acknowledging the power and goodness of Almighty God, who presides over the destiny of nations, and who has at all times been revealed in our country's history, let us invoke His aid and His blessings upon our labors."
"The Almighty God has blessed our land in many ways. He has given our people stout hearts and strong arms with which to strike mighty blows for freedom and truth. He has given to our country a faith which has become the hope of all peoples in an anguished world. So we pray to Him now for the vision to see our way clearly—to see the way that leads to a better life for ourselves and for all our fellow men— to the achievement of His will to peace on earth."
—FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
"At such a time in history, we who are free must proclaim anew our faith. This faith is the abiding creed of our fathers. It is our faith in the deathless dignity of man, governed by eternal moral and natural laws.This faith defines our full view of life. It establishes, beyond debate, those gifts of the Creator that are man's inalienable rights, and that make all men equal in His sight."
"Under this covenant of justice, liberty, and union we have become a nation—prosperous, great, and mighty. And we have kept our freedom. But we have no promise from God that our greatness will endure. We have been allowed by Him to seek greatness with the sweat of our hands and the strength of our spirit. … If we fail now, we shall have forgotten in abundance what we learned in hardship: that democracy rests on faith, that freedom asks more than it gives, and that the judgment of God is harshest on those who are most favored."
"We shall answer to God, to history, and to our conscience for the way in which we use these years."
"I have just taken the oath of office on the Bible my mother gave me a few years ago, opened to a timeless admonition from the ancient prophet Micah: 'He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God' (Micah 6: 8)."
|PRESIDENT||TERM DATES||DENOMINATIONAL AFFILIATION|
|George Washington||1789-97||Episcopalian (theistic rationalist*)|
|John Adams||1797-1801||Congregationalist; Unitarian|
|Thomas Jefferson||1801-09||Episcopalian (theistic rationalist*)|
|James Madison||1809-17||Episcopalian (theistic rationalist*)|
|James Monroe||1817-25||Episcopalian (deist?)|
|John Quincy Adams||1825-29||Unitarian|
|Martin Van Buren||1837-41||Dutch Reformed|
|William Henry Harrison||1841||Episcopalian|
|John Tyler||1841-45||Episcopalian (deist?)|
|James Polk||1845-49||Presbyterian; Methodist|
|Andrew Johnson||1865-69||Christian (no specific denomination)|
|Ulysses S. Grant||1869-77||Presbyterian; Methodist|
|Rutherford B. Hayes||1877-81||Methodist|
|James Garfield||1881||Disciples of Christ|
|Theodore Roosevelt||1901-09||Dutch Reformed|
|William H. Taft||1909-13||Unitarian|
|Franklin D. Roosevelt||1933-45||Episcopalian|
|Harry Truman||1945-53||Southern Baptist|
|John F. Kennedy||1961-63||Catholic|
|Lyndon Johnson||1963-69||Disciples of Christ|
|Jimmy Carter||1977-81||Baptist (former Southern Baptist)|
|Ronald Reagan||1981-89||Disciples of Christ|
|George W. Bush||2001-2009||Methodist (former Episcopalian)|
|Donald J. Trump||2017-||Presbyterian|
*The term "deist" is often used for a number of early presidents and founding fathers, though this causes confusion. For some of these founders, historian Gary Scott Smith prefers the term "theistic rationalism," which mixed elements of natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism, and relied foremost on reason. Unlike deists, theistic rationalists believed that God was active in the world and that prayer was therefore effectual. They contended that religion's primary role was to promote morality, which was indispensable to society.
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian History & Biography magazine.
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