Which President Said “I Do Not Believe In The Divinity Of Christ”?

You might say Thomas Jefferson, and you’d be nearly correct. David Kopel however, reveals that it was actually William Howard Taft, who served as President from 1909-1913, and Chief Justice of the United States from 1921-1930.

One wonders if he could get elected dog catcher (do they actually vote for dog catcher anywhere by the way?) in most parts of the country today.

FILED UNDER: Religion, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. BleevK says:

    I was born too late.

  2. john personna says:

    I still think a lot of what has happened is a hidden millennial cycle. Religiosity is always going to peak on turns of the 1000 year clock.

  3. Fiona says:

    Good for Taft. He’d never get elected President today spouting those sentiments. Never.

  4. Ron Beasley says:

    As a Unitarian John Adams could have said it as well.

  5. Murray says:

    Bill & Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Chris Christie and Rick Scott amongst others have proven one could be elected to high offices in this country in our era without pandering to the “Jesus is Magic” crowd.

    Also, one should note that Taft said this after his election not before, and that the blog Doug links to also mentions that a certain Mitt Romney didn’t shy away from denouncing religious extremists.

    In short, I believe religious zealots are very noisy in this country, but their true influence is WAY overrated compared to other periods of our history.

  6. Ron Beasley says:

    @Murray: Christie is a Catholic and as such is a member of the “Jesus is Magic” crowd.

  7. Franklin says:

    With all due respect, Murray said ‘pandering to‘ that crowd.

  8. LaurenceB says:


    Murray’s list is a list of politicians that don’t typically pander to Christian voters.

    The list of those that do pander would be roughly the inverse of that set – which would obviously include a whole lot of folks.

    For ease of comparison, I’ve included below a list of politicians that pander to the non-religious:

    (Empty List)

    If I’ve missed anyone, feel free to point him or her out.

  9. Ben says:

    Even though they don’t pander to that crowd, they ARE religious people, and when directly asked, they WILL give a “jesus is magic” answer. I’m only aware of one federal-level elected office-holder who doesn’t, and that is Pete Stark.

  10. Was he already elected?

  11. Nightrider says:

    Huh? You do know that the many Jewish members of Congress wouldn’t say they believe in that, right?

  12. Ben says:


    OK, fine let me amend that, then. replace the “jesus is magic” line with “jesus/yahweh/allah is magic”