Abraham Lincoln’s Handbill Replying to Charges of Infidelity


To the Voters of the Seventh Congressional District. 

A charge having got into circulation in some of the neighborhoods of this District, in substance that I am an open scoffer at Christianity, I have by the advice of some friends concluded to notice the subject in this form. That I am not a member of any Christian Church, is true; but I have never denied the truth of the Scriptures; and I have never spoken with intentional disrespect of religion in general, or any denomination of Christians in particular. It is true that in early life I was inclined to believe in what I understand is called the “Doctrine of Necessity” — that is, that the human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, over which the mind itself has no control; and I have sometimes (with one, two or three, but never publicly) tried to maintain this opinion in argument. The habit of arguing thus however, I have, entirely left off for more than five years. And I add here, I have always understood this same opinion to be held by several of the Christian denominations. The foregoing, is the whole truth, briefly stated, in relation to myself, upon this subject.

I do not think I could myself, be brought to support a man for office, whom I knew to be an open enemy of, and scoffer at, religion. Leaving the higher matter of eternal consequences, between him and his Maker, I still do not think any man has the right thus to insult the feelings, and injure the morals, or the community in which he may live. If, then, I was guilty of such conduct, I should blame no man who should condemn me for it; but I do blame those, whoever they may be, who falsely put such a charge in circulation against me.

A. Lincoln

July 31, 1846

Summarizing his views on Christianity, Allen C. Guelzo, author of Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, says:

It’s true that I do not belong to a Christian church, and it’s true that I have never made any profession of Christian belief, but I’ve never scorned Christians. I’ve never criticized Christian churches. I’ve never been an open scoffer at Christianity. And what’s more, I believe in this doctrine of necessity. But isn’t it true that there are some religious denominations that also believe in a doctrine of necessity?

Guelzo to Justin Taylor, “Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian?” at The Gospel Coalition (February 18, 2014).