*Christianity Today*: Trump is first president to change faiths in office since Eisenhower

We posted on Trump’s newfound “non-denominational” faith here.

Here is a taste of Dan Silliman’s piece:

Dwight Eisenhower was baptized the second Sunday he was in the White House, in January 1953. He was joining the group that Trump is now leaving: the Presbyterians.

Eisenhower, like Trump, was not particularly religious before his election. He was raised in a small Anabaptist denomination, which he left when he went to military school. His parents later joined the Bible Students, a group that became the Jehovah’s Witnesses. When he was running for office in 1952, the World War II hero’s lack of a denomination became an issue. He was called “a man without a church and without a faith.”

One of his spiritual advisors, the evangelist Billy Graham, encouraged Eisenhower to set an example for the nation by joining a church, and recommended he become a Presbyterian. Though Graham was a Baptist, he worked across denominational lines, knew the Presbyterian minister in Washington, DC, and thought Eisenhower would feel comfortable at the orderly, formal Sunday service.

Eisenhower originally resisted the idea, according to historian Gary Scott Smith, thinking the move would just look cynical and political. He felt his faith was private.

Read the rest here.

Quick thoughts:

  1. I am not sure if any president prior to Eisenhower changed his denomination while in office.
  2. Can we really say that Trump “changed faiths?” I understand what Silliman is doing in this piece, but how does one formally “change” to a “non-denominational” faith? What does changing to “non-denominational” faith involve, especially for a man who has been to church only a handful of times since he took office? At least Eisenhower was baptized.
  3. I took the picture at the top of this post in June 2016 when I spoke at National Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. on The Bible Cause book tour. It is the kneeler Eisenhower used when he was baptized into the Presbyterian church in 1953. Here is the plaque:

And the sanctuary: