In fact, a number of great presidents have come to the White House without membership in any faith community. Thomas Jefferson was a Deist and was vigorously attacked for his religious views (or lack thereof). Abraham Lincoln, as a matter of conscience, refused to join any church. Yet our nation’s capital rightly dedicates two of its most stately monuments to those two men of unorthodox spiritual worldviews.
More recently, the great cultural chasm between Catholics and Protestants was politically overcome with the election of John F. Kennedy. Similarly, then-Vice President Al Gore’s choice of Sen. Joe Lieberman, a practicing Jew, as his running mate in 2000 signaled the welcoming openness of America’s democratic experience to individuals who did not share the Christian faith but were honorable statesmen of steely commitment to America’s constitutional principles.
In my own life, I have drawn great strength from my religious practices and, according to the teachings of my faith tradition, I intend to continue to keep in prayer those who are chosen to lead our nation. That said, the litmus for our elected leaders must not be the church they attend but the Constitution they defend.