Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?

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Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?

Abraham Lincoln on Religion

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?
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President Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 - April 15, 1865)

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?

Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Religion, Christianity, and the Bible


Abraham Lincoln's religious beliefs are a matter of debate. Lincoln grew up in a highly religious family, but never joined any church. As a young man he was a skeptic. He frequently referenced God and quoted the Bible; he accompanied his wife and children to Protestant services, and after the deaths of two children became more intensely concerned with God's plan for mankind. He was private about his beliefs and respected the beliefs of others. Lincoln never made a clear profession of standard Christian beliefs; he did believe in an all-powerful God that shaped events and, by 1865, was expressing those beliefs in major speeches.

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?
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Did Abraham Lincoln believe in God?

Abraham Lincoln Quotes on Religion, Christianity, and the Bible

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?
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Abraham Lincoln and son Tad

That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or any denomination of Christians in particular. --July 31, 1846 Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity

I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion. --July 31, 1846 Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity

He [Stephen Douglas] says I have a proneness for quoting scripture. If I should do so now, it occurs that perhaps he places himself somewhat upon the ground of the parable of the lost sheep which went astray upon the mountains, and when the owner of the hundred sheep found the one that was lost, and threw it upon his shoulders, and came home rejoicing, it was said that there was more rejoicing over the one sheep that was lost and had been found, than over the ninety and nine in the fold. The application is made by the Saviour [aka Savior] in this parable, thus, "Verily I say unto you, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons that need no repentence. And now, if the Judge claims the benefit of his parable, let him repent. Let him not come up here and say: I am the only just person; and you are the ninety-nine sinners! Repentence, before forgiveness is a provision of the Christian system, and on that condition alone will the Republicans grant his forgiveness. --July 17, 1858 Speech at Springfield, Illinois

In their enlightened belief, nothing stamped with the Divine image and likeness was sent into the world to be trodden on, and degraded, and imbruted by its fellows. --August 17, 1858 Speech at Lewistown, Illinois

The Bible says somewhere that we are desperately selfish. I think we would have discovered that fact without the Bible. --October 15, 1858 Debate at Alton, Illinois

The good old maxims of the Bible are applicable, and truly applicable to human affairs, and in this as in other things, we may say here that he who is not for us is against us; he would gathereth not with us scattereth. --September 17, 1859 Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio

I think that if anything can be proved by natural theology, it is that slavery is morally wrong. God gave man a mouth to receive bread, hands to feed it, and his hand has a right to carry bread to his mouth without controversy. --March 5, 1860 Speech at Hartford, Conn.

Remembering that Peter denied his Lord with an oath, after most solemnly protesting that he never would, I will not swear I will make no committals; but I do think I will not. --June 5, 1860 Letter to Lyman Trumbull

I hope to have God on my side, but I must have Kentucky. --Prior to the American Civil War

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?
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Inaugural Bible of President Abraham Lincoln in 1861

Abraham Lincoln and Christianity
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Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration Bible

(About) Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration Bible. A U.S. Supreme Court seal on a bright blue paper wafer is affixed to a page in Lincoln’s Inaugural Bible, and the opposite page bears the inscription of William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the Supreme Court, who attested that the Bible was that upon which Abraham Lincoln took his presidential oath of office on March 4, 1861, administered by Chief Justice R.B. Taney. It is an 1853 Oxford Bible, Gift of Mrs. Robert Todd Lincoln, 1928, Rare Book & Special Collections Division, Library of Congress.

Known as Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration Bible and the Inaugural Bible of 1861, an alternate view is also displayed. On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln, a tall, lanky man from Springfield, Ill., rested one hand upon this Bible while taking his oath to become the 16th president of the United States. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln using the Bible shown here. With the brief words, "I, Abraham Lincoln, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States" Lincoln was sworn in as the sixteenth president. The ceremony was witnessed by Clerk of the Supreme Court, William Thomas Carroll, who recorded the occasion in the back of this Bible.

No friend of emancipation, Taney had written the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case in 1857, in which he said Scott “was a slave and not a citizen” of either the state of Missouri or the United States and therefore had no standing to sue his owner for freedom in either a state or federal court. Taney defined Scott as “mere chattel” that could be treated as any other property by his owner. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not have authority to prohibit slavery in territories, and that those provisions of the Missouri Compromise of 1820 were unconstitutional. That irony, of being sworn in by Taney, was not lost on Lincoln, who devoted one long paragraph in his inaugural address to a discussion of the Supreme Court and whether “the policy of the government upon vital questions, affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court.” President Lincoln assured dissidents on the brink of seceding that he had neither the power nor inclination to change or override the Constitution or state laws.

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it.’”

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?
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Items found on Abraham Lincoln when he died.

Gettysburg Address
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Gettysburg Address has Christian principles

To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. --February 11, 1861 Farewell Address

Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulty. --March 4, 1861 First Inaugural Address

The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. --September 1862 Meditation on the Divine Will

The subject presented in the memorial is one upon which I have thought much for weeks past, and I may even say for months. I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in the belief, and perhaps in some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it is I will do it! These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible and learn what appears to be wise and right. The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree. --September 13, 1862 Reply to Chicago Christians

If I had had my way, this war would never have been commenced; If I had been allowed my way this war would have ended before this, but we find it still continues; and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose of his own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but believe, that he who made the world still governs it. --October 26, 1862 Reply to Eliza Gurney

And while it has not pleased the Almighty to bless us with a return of peace, we can but press on, guided by the best light He gives, trusting that in His own good time, and wise way, all will yet be well. --December 1, 1862 Annual Message to Congress

But I must add that the U.S. government must not, as by this order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual, in a church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest, he must be checked; but let the churches, as such take care of themselves. It will not do for the U.S. to appoint Trustees, Supervisors, or other agents for the churches. --January 2, 1863 Letter to Samuel Curtis

Relying, as I do, upon the Almighty Power, and encouraged as I am by these resolutions which you have just read, with the support which I receive from Christian men, I shall not hesitate to use all the means at my control to secure the termination of this rebellion, and will hope for success. --June 2, 1863 Reply to Members of the Presbyterian General Assembly

I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call, but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. -- July 7, 1863 Response to a Serenade

Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result. -- August 26, 1863 Letter to James Conkling

Nevertheless, amid the greatest difficulties of my Administration, when I could not see any other resort, I would place my whole reliance on God, knowing that all would go well, and that He would decide for the right. --October 24, 1863 Remarks to the Baltimore Presbyterian Synod

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. –November 19, 1863 Gettysburg Address

Did Abraham Lincoln believe in God?
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Abraham Lincoln on Life

On principle I dislike an oath which requires a man to swear he has not done wrong. It rejects the Christian principle of forgiveness on terms of repentance. I think it is enough if the man does no wrong hereafter. --February 5, 1864 Memorandum to Secretary Stanton

If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God. --April 4, 1864 Letter to Albert Hodges

God bless the Methodist Church -- bless all the churches -- and blessed be God, Who, in this our great trial, giveth us the churches. --May 18, 1864 Response to Methodists

To read in the Bible, as the word of God himself, that "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," and to preach therefrom that, "In the sweat of other mans faces shalt thou eat bread," to my mind can scarcely be reconciled with honest sincerity. --May 30, 1864 Letter to George Ide and Others

I am very glad indeed to see you to-night, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call, but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. --July 7, 1864 Response to a Serenade

Enough is known of Army operations within the last five days to claim our especial gratitude to God; while what remains undone demands our most sincere prayers to, and reliance upon, Him, without whom, all human effort is vain. --May 10, 1864 Telegram Press Release

We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. --September 4, 1864 Letter to Eliza Gurney

I am much indebted to the good Christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. --September 4, 1864 Letter to Eliza Gurney

All the good the Saviour [Savior] gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it we could not know right from wrong. All things most desirable for man's welfare, here and hereafter, are to be found portrayed in it. --September 7, 1864 Reply to Loyal Colored People of Baltimore upon Presentation of a Bible

Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. --March 4, 1865 Second Inaugural Address

Fondly do we hope -- fervently do we pray -- that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether. --March 4, 1865 Second Inaugural Address

Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. --March 15, 1865 Letter to Thurlow Weed

See also Abraham Lincoln and the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation, President Abraham Lincoln in his own words from Civil Rights to States' Rights and Abraham Lincoln History Homepage.


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