Lincoln's Religious Quest
Why his faith won't suit either side in the culture wars.
One reason why Lincoln has endured as Americans' prime civic icon (white Southerners having come on board in large numbers even by the late 19th century) is his straddling of the secular-religious boundary line. He can gather disciples on both sides. The 2009 commemorations will surely coincide with attempts to induct Lincoln into the ongoing American cultural tug-of-war by forcing him onto one side or the other. Pundits of faith are liable to pit a secular Darwin against a religious Lincoln. Perhaps Carwardine's book will help shield him from such treatment. The real Lincoln remains a straddler, too religious for most secularists but too fatalistic for most religionists.
Richard Wightman Fox, professor of history at the University of Southern California, is writing a book about the death and funeral of Abraham Lincoln.