Nearly everyone (and every cause) in American life seeks to claim Lincoln as his/her/its own. This truth is particularly applicable as it pertains to matters of religion. Lincoln is claimed to be everything from a devout and orthodox Christian to an atheist, and pretty much everything in between. In Lincoln and the Will of God, Andrew Ferguson outlines the difficulties, ambiguities and even the inconsistencies of Lincoln’s thought in this area and concludes from that uncertainty that it’s impossible for anyone to claim Lincoln’s support in matters of religion (or irreligion).
“The uncertainty has made Lincoln our common property, whoever we are, from Robert Ingersoll to Cardinal Mundelein to Nettie Maynard. It may be indeed that Lincoln’s is the only kind of religious expression that will travel in a free country like ours. His religion has lasted a century and a half and has appealed to believers of all kinds, and to skeptics too, exactly because of its generality. Yet it still means something definable and concrete: The country, Lincoln believed, is the carrier of a precious cargo, a proposition that is the timeless human truth, and the survival of this principle will always be of providential importance. We assent to Lincoln’s creed, wide open as it is, when we think of ourselves as Americans.”