To Reinhold Niebuhr, Abraham Lincoln was an exemplary individual that found harmony in the nexus of moral treasures, freedom, and religion. President Lincoln had a keen sense of religious values and was able to effectively incorporate them into his philosophy-one that Niebuhr greatly admired. President Lincoln sought divinity and spoke of the Almighty God and the powers of this mysterious entity. While Lincoln was non-denominational and far from a theologian, his faith and profound religious aptitude led himself to interpreting many circumstances. Lincoln’s most notable discussion of his religion position took place during his second inaugural address-five years into the Civil War. During the Civil War, the Confederates and the Union were fighting a very bloody and divisive war. While the warring factions had polarizing goals, they found common ground in their religion-both read the same bible and prayed to the same God. As with any rational actor, each believed they were virtuous and driven by moral destiny; even going insofar as to invoke God’s assistance:
Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. 2
Lincoln approached the Civil War not from a political perspective, but with moral discernment. More so, Lincoln elicited moral and religious justification and, in doing so, probed the human conscious by calling upon the humility in humanity. Despite the South’s moral truculence, President Lincoln did not define the South as evil, choosing to rather forgive and urge repentance. President Lincoln’s refusal to claim the Union was more morally astute than the clear wrongdoers acknowledged his appreciation for adopting a religious vantage point. For President Lincoln, forgiveness lent itself equal usefulness to the forgiven and the forgiver. Personally, Lincoln’s religious overtones echo Matthew 6: 14-15: “for if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men of their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Reinhold Niebuhr placed the Sixteenth President of The United States on a pedestal because Lincoln represented “as almost a perfect model of the difficult but not impossible task of remaining loyal and responsible toward the moral treasures of a free civilization on the one hand while yet having some religious vantage point over the struggle.3 ” Niebuhr was drawn to President Lincoln because of Lincoln’s interpretation of America’s moral meaning. Lincoln was unique in the fact that he spoke of America with fond eloquence. Lincoln was humble in his thoughts and actions, speaking of moral righteousness without succumbing to the perils of it....