16 Intriguing Facts About the Religious Affiliation of U.S. Presidents

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Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons / ChurchPOP

Separation of Church and State is important in the U.S., and there’s no religious test for office. But knowing what our 45 presidents have believed about religion is interesting nonetheless.

1) 4 presidents were accused of being atheists during their election campaigns

Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, William Howard Taft, and Barack Obama.

2) No president has publicly claimed to be an atheist or to adhere to a completely non-Christian religion

3) President Eisenhower is the only president to have been baptized while in office

He was raised by Jehovah’s Witness parents, but was baptized in a presbyterian church soon after becoming president.

4) More presidents have been Episcopalian than any other denomination: 11

George Washington, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce, Chester A. Arthur, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush.

5) The denomination with the 2nd most presidents is Presbyterianism: 9

Andrew Jackson, James Polk, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.

6) Despite their small numbers in the general population, 2 presidents have been Quakers

Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon. Though Quakers are not supposed to take oaths, both took the oath of office nonetheless.

7) Despite their large numbers in the general population, only 4 presidents have been baptist

Warren Harding, Harry Truman, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton

8) There has only been 1 Catholic president (and 1 Catholic vice president)

J.F.K and Joe Biden. Ronald Reagan’s father was Catholic, but he was raised in the religion of his mother, who was a Disciple of Christ.

9) Andrew Johnson belonged to no denomination, but liked attending Catholic mass

He apparently liked that there was no assigned seating. He also sometimes attended Methodist services with his wife.

10) 4 presidents have been Unitarians

John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Millard Fillmore, and William Howard Taft

11) Ulysses S. Grant was apparently never baptized

He attended Methodist services with his wife, but was not a member himself. However, there are claims that he had some sort of death-bed conversion.

12) James Garfield preached at revival meetings as a young man

Though he was not an ordained minister in any denomination.

13) Benjamin Harrison was a church elder in his presbyterian church and taught Sunday school

14) William Taft turned down an offer to be president of Yale University because he denied the divinity of Christ

Yale University was associated with the Congregational Church at the time.

15) Chester A. Arthur’s father was a baptist preacher

Though he himself was a member of the Episcopal church.

16) William McKinley planned to be a Methodist minister early in his life

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