There is a moment in Steven Spielberg’s masterful new film “Lincoln” when the 16th president asks the kind of big question usually tackled by religion: Why are we here?

“Do you think we choose the times into which we are born,” Daniel Day-Lewis, as Abraham Lincoln, asks two young workers in the telegraph office. “Or do we fit the times we are born into?”

That’s as close as the film comes to probing the faith of Abraham Lincoln. But the nature of Lincoln’s faith — or the lack thereof — has remained one of the most fascinating aspects of the man who freed the slaves, preserved the Union and carried the wounded nation through its bloodiest war.

Beginning almost immediately after his assassination 147 years ago, hundreds of books, articles and essays have appeared, many claiming Lincoln was — if not in fact, then in sentiment — a Christian, Catholic, Jew, Mormon, psychic, spiritualist, agnostic and atheist.

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