Our Presidents Talk About God and the Bible

By Al Perrotta Published on February 19, 2024

On this President’s Day, we consider what our presidents have had to say about the role God and the Bible have played in our nation’s history … and the dangers of turning away from our Creator.

Making Sure We Are on God’s Side

Politicians are quick to claim God is on their side of the aisle. This was never truer than during the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln understood the Blue and the Gray had it backwards.

“My concern is not whether God is on our side. My great concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” 

A Fondness for the Bible Throughout Our History

President Reagan during a meeting with members of Congress, November 1, 1983

Our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, quickly summarized the role the Bible’s had in our nation’s history: “Of the many influences that have shaped the United States into a distinctive nation and people, none may be said to be more fundamental and enduring than the Bible.”

His predecessors felt the same, including the man who led us through World War II and the General who won the Civil War. 

We cannot read the history of our rise and development as a nation, without reckoning with the place the Bible has occupied in shaping the advances of the Republic. Where we have been the truest and most consistent in obeying its precepts, we have attained the greatest measure of contentment and prosperity. (Franklin Roosevelt, 32nd President)

Hold fast to the Bible as the sheet anchor of your liberties. Write its precepts in your hearts, and practice them in your lives. To the influence of this book are we indebted for all the progress made in true civilization, and to this we must look as our guide in the future. ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.’  (Ulysses S. Grant, 18th President)

Our 7th President, Andrew Jackson, didn’t need fancy words to spell it out. “[The Bible] is the rock on which our Republic rests.” 

A colorized photo of John Quincy Adams, in 1843. The original is the first known photo of a president, though by this time he had become an esteemed congressman.

His immediate predecessor John Quincy Adams stressed not only the Bible as instrumental in forming the nation, but in forming us as individuals.

The first and almost the only book deserving of universal attention is the Bible. I speak as a man of the world…and I say to you, ‘Search the Scriptures.’

So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.

We’ve seen the effect of keeping the Bible away from children in schools.

What happens when God is shoved out of the public square?

Warning of an America Without God

The 45th President, Donald Trump, speaking on the National Day of Prayer said, “In America, we do not punish prayer. We do not tear down crosses. We do not ban symbols of faith. We do not muzzle preachers and pastors. In America, we celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We lift our voices in prayer, and we raise our sights to the Glory of God!”

faith and prayer in the oval office

And if we don’t?

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From George Washington on down, presidents have warned of our nation’s collapse, should we lose sight of God and Biblical principles.

Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. (George Washington)

 Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life. Recognition of the Supreme Being is the first, the most basic, expression of Americanism. Thus, the founding fathers of America saw it, and thus with God’s help, it will continue to be. (Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President)

The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount. The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul. I don’t think we emphasize that enough these days. If we don’t have a proper fundamental moral background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State! (Harry S. Truman, 33rd President)

Is Truman’s warning coming to fruition? With the government spying on Catholic churches and hunting pro-life demonstrators, and dubbing parents trying to protect their children from ungodly materials in schools labeled “domestic terrorists,” you have to wonder. The thought of the nation stepping away from God in this manner left Thomas Jefferson trembling.

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” 

We leave the last word to President Ronald Reagan:

“If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

 

Al Perrotta is the Managing Editor of The Stream, co-author, with John Zmirak, of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and co-author of the counter-terrorism memoir Hostile Intent: Protecting Yourself Against Terrorism.

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