Jon Meacham, writes: "On this Presidents' Day, it is worth pausing for a just a moment to consider the history of religious references and the presidency---an act of consideration that I hope helps us keep faith in the public square in proper perspective.
For the wonderful thing about American public religion- or what Lincoln called our "political religion" - is that its creed is liberty and the rule of law, not coercion or forced belief or a link between one's civil and religious lives. George Washington promised that the government would "give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance," a promise that I think is as fundamental to America as the promises of the Declaration of Independence.
Liberty and faith, like reason and faith, need not be mutually exclusive. In fact, there is a strong theological argument for freedom of (and from) religion: If God himself did not compel obedience or love, then who are men to try? As Robert Ingersoll, the great 19th century agnostic, once said, it is a poor religion that requires a musket to enforce belief."