I’ve written about this subject before, but not recently, and people nowadays seem to have a tendency to forget much of what they once learned. Our attention span as a people seems to be about seven minutes–the time between commercials on most television stations. What went on beyond the last commercial we often don’t remember too well. And for something we learned yesterday, forget it. It’s long gone!
What made me think of this was something I saw on the internet while looking for something else. I came across a site that said of Abraham Lincoln that he was the first “republican, Christian president.” Knowing what I know about Lincoln that almost made me choke!
Lincoln was supposedly raised in a strict Baptist family. There has even been some question in some circles about his ancestry. Some have claimed he was born in North Carolina where his mother was a servant of the Enloe family. I saw a short booklet about that once. Don’t know if that’s still among my research material or not.
Be that as it may, Lincoln never joined any church. As a young man he was noted as a skeptic and even noted for ridiculing Christian preachers and revivalists. Many who knew him for years like William Herndon and Ward Lamon rejected the idea that he was a believing Christian. Even his wife also said, at one point, that “Mr. Lincoln was not a technical Christian.”
James Adams 1783-1843, called Lincoln a deist. Lincoln was reported to have authored a manuscript that challenged orthodox Christianity and was taken from the ideas of unbeliever Thomas Paine. Some writers have pooh-poohed this but I have read enough about it to think it may well be true. Supposedly a friend after reading it, took it and threw it into the stove, telling Lincoln it would ruin his political ambitions–and in his day it would have. Today, in our apostate age, he might have gotten by with it, but not back then.
According to The Gospel Coalition, they say of Lincoln: “Well, the truth of the matter is that he was not. He was exposed to Christian influences all his life. He worked with Christian people…but Lincoln never joined a church, never was actively involved in any kind of Christian organization, in fact, had only most minimal religious profile in his own day.” When someone asked his law partner, William Herndon, about Lincoln’s religious faith, Herndon replied to the man “The less said about that the better.”
Donnie Kennedy and I had a chapter in our book Lincolns Marxists about how a freethinker viewed Lincoln. The freethinker was Col. Robert Ingersoll. This freethinker led the charge in defending Lincoln against the charge of being a Christian and instead argued that he was a freethinker. Freethinkers include atheists and agnostics. Christians they are not. I even read one place, and I did an article on this, where Lincoln was reported to be a Rosicrucian. But, then too, some evangelicals have claimed him. All the research I have done over the years has led me to the conclusion that Lincoln was far removed from the orthodox Christian faith.
This piece was published on Revised History on April 24, 2023.
Al Benson is the South’s best-known Copperhead (Northern-born patriot), a prolific columnist. and the coauthor of Lincoln’s Marxists.