President Donald Trump's decision that he no longer considers himself to be Presbyterian means he has become the first president since Dwight Eisenhower to change faiths while in office, according to Christianity Today.
Eisenhower, who was not particularly religious before his election and was raised in a small Anabaptist denomination, was baptized soon after entering the White House as a Presbyterian.
“I now consider myself to be a non-denominational Christian,” Trump told Religion News. Trump previously called himself Presbyterian numerous times over the years after he was confirmed in the church.
Trump added that “Melania and I have gotten to visit some amazing churches and meet with great faith leaders from around the world. During the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak, I tuned into several virtual church services and know that millions of Americans did the same.”
Trump’s switch is part of a larger trend among Americans. In 1975, nearly a third of Americans identified with a mainline denomination, a number that has dropped to a little more than 10% currently, according to Christianity Today.
It's unclear whether Trump has ever maintained a formal membership in any Presbyterian denomination. But membership in the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) has fallen by about 4.5% annually since Trump entered the White House and has declined from 3.1 million members in 1984 to about 1.3 million today.
Most Americans do not think Trump has strong religious beliefs, according to the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute poll, with some 40% saying he “is mostly using religion for political purposes.”
However, among white evangelicals who vote Republican, 59% say Trump has strong religious beliefs.
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