I had been under the impression that voters in the U.S. had never elected a member of the clergy to be president, even though some of them sometimes acted like they were Preacher in Chief occupying the bully pulpit.
But then I read the current issue of Christian History magazine, which focuses on the Stone-Campbell Movement, which created today's Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In a "Did You Know?" section, the magaine reports this: "Several presidents have been members of the Stone-Campbell tradition. The first was James Garfield (pictured here). Baptized at age 18, Garfield began preaching at age 21 and is the only U.S. president who was a minister."
Well, it turns out, sort of.
Garfield (1831-1881), the nation's 20th president, was never ordained in the traditional sense that Christian congregtions generally think about ordination.
But he preached off and on here and there, and apparently briefly considered making the ministry his career. But he soon turned to law and politics, though never leaving his faith tradition.
And although the term "minister" generally is used for ordained clergy, many Christian groups also use a broader definition of the term to include everyone in the sense of what's called "the priesthood of all believers."
But while I was digging around to find out more about Garfield's religious history, I ran across this excellent piece that offers a pretty detailed account of that subject. And if you want a few quotes from Gafield about religion, you'll find them here.
So my brief research confirms my suspicion that so far the Oval Office has been a clergy-free zone, save for visitors.
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THE iWORD OF GOD?
Americans increasingly are turning to the Internet to read the Bible, a new study shows. Lots of folks apparently put the Good Book online because of a prophet-motive.