A True Estimate of Abraham Lincoln
and Vindication of the South
by Mildred Lewis Rutherford
Lincoln was not a religious man — say what you will. When he became a candidate for the Illinois Legislature, he was accused of being an infidel, and he never denied it. He was accused of saying Jesus was not the Son of God, and he never denied it.(1)
Ward H. Lamon says he went further than any person he ever knew in regard to religious things — he shocked him:
He goes to church but he goes to mimic and mock.
He never joined any church. He did not believe the Bible was inspired.
He denied that Jesus was the Son of God. Overwhelming testimony out of many mouths, and one stranger than out of his own, place these truths beyond controversy.(2)
Herndon said, "Lincoln was a deep-grounded infidel." Dennis Hanks, Lincoln’s first cousin, said, "Abe would make fun of the preacher. He would reproduce the sermon with a nasal twang, roll his eyes and make droll faces to the delight of the wild fellow collected. Abe never did sing sacred songs. He sang songs of a very questionable character." John G. Nicolay, Lincoln’s private secretary, said, "Mr. Lincoln did not to my knowledge in any way change his religious views, opinions or beliefs from the time he left Springfield to the day of his death."
It is said that all of his state papers and his Emancipation Proclamation have religious utterances in them. If so, others for effect had the sacred words added:
On January 1, 1863, the second writing of the Emancipation Proclamation was read. The members of the Cabinet noticed that the name of God was not mentioned in it, and reminded the President that such an important document should recognize the name of the Deity. Lincoln said he had overlooked that fact and asked the Cabinet to assist him in preparing a paragraph recognizing God. Chief Justice Chase prepared it:
"I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God."
It was accepted without a change.
It was stated Lincoln was on his knees for hours before the battle of Gettysburg. Barnes, in his Popular History, says Mr. Lincoln was making vows instead. He made a rash vow that if General Lee was driven out of Maryland, he would free the slaves — a vow is quite different from a prayer.
How can ministers and lecturers and religious teachers hold Lincoln as an example for Christian children to emulate? The danger is great and mothers are realizing it. They find their children holding him up as an example in denying the Divinity of our Lord, and the needlessness of uniting with any church.
1. Herndon’s letter to Lamon.
2. Life of Abraham Lincoln (1872).