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Abraham Lincoln Was an Infidel

Ward H. Lamon was a close friend of Abraham Lincoln and his personal bodyguard. In 1872, he wrote a biography about the 16th president, titled “The Life of Abraham Lincoln: From His Birth to His Inauguration as President,” in which he told about Lincoln’s views on the Bible and Christianity. In order to make the matter clear, Lamon not only gave his own testimony about what he had heard from Lincoln but also gathered testimony from some of Lincoln’s friends and associates:

On page 487, Lamon quotes James H. Matheny, a personal friend of Lincoln’s:

“I knew Mr. Lincoln as early as 1834; know he was an infidel. He and W. D. Herndon used to talk infidelity in the clerk’s office in this city, about the years 1837-40. Lincoln attacked the Bible and the New Testament on two grounds: first, from the inherent or apparent contradictions under its lids; second, from the grounds of reason. Sometimes he ridiculed the Bible and New Testament, sometimes seemed to scoff it, though I shall not use that word in its full and literal sense. I never heard that  Lincoln changed his views, though his personal and political friend from 1834 to 1860.”

On page 488, Lamon quotes John T. Stuart, a lawyer associate of Lincoln’s:  

“I knew Mr. Lincoln when he first came here, and for years afterwards. He was an avowed and open infidel, sometimes bordered on atheism. I have often heard Lincoln and one W. D. Herndon, who was a free-thinker, talk over this subject. Lincoln went further against Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I ever heard: he shocked me. I don’t remember the exact line of his argument: suppose it was against the inherent defects, so called, of the Bible, and on grounds of reason. Lincoln always denied that Jesus was the Christ of God — denied that Jesus was the Son of God, as understood and maintained by the Christian Church.”

On page 489, Lamon quotes William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner:

“As to Mr. Lincoln’s religious views, he was, in short, an infidel … a theist. He did not believe that Jesus was God, nor the Son of God — was a fatalist, denied the freedom of the will. Mr. Lincoln told me a thousand times, that he did not believe the Bible was the revelation of God, as the Christian world contends.”

Lamon also quotes Herndon on page 494:

“First, That he did not believe in a special creation, his idea being that all creation was an evolution under law; Secondly, That he did not believe that the Bible was a special revelation from God, as the Christian world contends; Thirdly, He did not believe in miracles, as understood by the Christian world; Fourthly, He believed in universal inspiration and miracles under law; Fifthly, He did not believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, as the Christian world contends; Sixthly, He believed that all things, both matter and mind, were governed by laws, universal, absolute, and eternal. All his speeches and remarks in Washington conclusively prove this.”

Again, on page 496, Lamon quotes Herndon:

“I never heard him use the name of Christ or Jesus but to confute the idea that he was the Christ, the only and trulybegotten Son of God, as the Christian world understands it. The idea that Mr. Lincoln carried the New Testament or Bible in his bosom or boots, to draw on his opponent in debate [as was said in another book] is ridiculous.”

Lamon himself says on page 486:

“Mr. Lincoln was never a member of any church, nor did he believe in the divinity of Christ, or the inspiration of the Scriptures in the sense understood by evangelical Christians. His theological opinions were substantially those expounded by [Unitarian minister] Theodore Parker. Overwhelming testimony out of many mouths, and none stronger than that out of his own, place these facts beyond controversy.”

On page 487 Lamon says:

“When he went to church at all, he went to mock, and came away to mimic. . . .”When he came to New Salem, he consorted with free-thinkers, joined with them in deriding the gospel history of Jesus, read Volney and Paine [both anti-Christian writers], and then wrote a deliberate and labored essay, wherein he reached conclusions similar to theirs. The essay was burnt, but he never denied or regretted its composition. On the contrary, he made it the subject of free and frequent conversations with his friends at Springfield, and stated, with much particularity and precision, the origin, arguments, and objects of the work.”

And on page 497 Lamon states:

“While it is very clear that Mr. Lincoln was at all times an infidel in the orthodox meaning of the term, it is also very clear that he was not at all times equally willing that everybody should know it. He never offered to purge or recant; but he was a wily politician, and did not disdain to regulate his religious manifestations with some reference to his political interests.”

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