Presidential religious lives are, for the most part, rather unremarkable - just like the majority of Americans they represent. As the 2012 presidential race hots up, the religion of the Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney continues to be an issue for many voters, reports The Huffington Post.
Americans have a hard time imagining a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon, as President. Yet Mormonism is, perhaps, the most American of all religions, founded by an American citizen and based on a sacred text that tells the story of God's work in the Americas.
It is enlightening to look at eight presidents whose religious lives have troubled and fascinated Americans, or whose faiths may surprise us even today.
1. Andrew Jackson. Our first Presbyterian president, Jackson's religious life is noteworthy because he conscientiously refused to allow his religion to be a part of his office. Long before the Presidential Prayer Breakfast or the National Day of Prayer, Jackson was called on by members of Congress and influential religious leaders to call for a national day of prayer and fasting in response to a cholera epidemic.
Jackson refused, stating that to do so would be to transcend "those limits which are prescribed by the Constitution for the President," and he feared that this religious encroachment could "disturb the security which religion now enjoys in this country in its complete separation from the political concerns of the General Government."
2. James K. Polk. Like Jackson, Polk also was reared in a Presbyterian community, though he was never a member of the church and was never baptized as a Presbyterian. The reason he was never baptized is that his father and grandfather were considered to be religiously suspect by the local Presbyterian church, "free-thinking radicals" who openly honored Deism and its proponents, like Thomas Paine.
FULL STORY The surprising faith of 8 American presidents (Huffington Post)