(from "Talks With TR" by John L. Leary {condensed by removing a presidential pardon story})

DURING the 1916 campaign Colonel Roosevelt had an attack of dry pleurisy which kept him away from church one Sunday. Late that afternoon I called and remarked that the "boys thought it funny you did not go to church."

" Huh, they did, did they? Well, you just tell them that if they think dry pleurisy is a joke, they'd better try it. I am just going to stay right in here the next four or five days. Anyway, so far as church is concerned, I just had the Reverend Talmage up to look me over, the church came to me, and I've had the benefit of clergy.

"Speaking of church, you once told me you were heterodox. That's right, isn't it? Well, do you know, I think — I wonder if you recall one verse of Micah that I am very fond of — 'to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God' — that to me is the essence of religion. To be just with all men, to be merciful to those to whom mercy should be shown, to realize that there are some things that must always remain a mystery to us, and when the time comes for us to enter the great blackness, to go smiling and unafraid.

"That is my religion, my faith. To me it sums up all religion, it is all the creed I need. It seems simple and easy, but there is more in that verse than in the involved rituals and confessions of faith of many creeds we know.

"To love justice, to be merciful, to appreciate that the great mysteries shall not be known to us, and so living, face the beyond confident and without fear — that is life.

"That's too simple a creed for many of us, though. Perhaps it is as well and that through more involved paths and mazes of theology the majority should seek the same result.

" I can quarrel with no man because of his religion. The Roman Catholic, the Jew, the Protestant, the Mohammedan, the follower of Confucius — all are right so long as they seek to follow what their leaders have taught. You have done much of prison work. You know that the Roman Catholic is in prison, not because of his faith, but because he broke away from it; the Jew is there because he and the synagogue are no longer friends; the Protestant, because his religion has ceased to be a living thing and his soul has atrophied.

"You know that.

"My, but I have no patience with those who attack, who would destroy a man's belief in religion — no patience with those who would convert the Jew en masse, or the Catholic. More likely than not, where they succeed at all they succeed only in destroying something — they take something real away and give nothing in return, leaving the victim bankrupt. I am always sorry for the faithless man, just as I am sorry for the woman without virtue.

"I have found, though, that however they may appear outwardly, most men at bottom are religious, just as the preponderating majority of men are honest and of women virtuous. Otherwise our civilization would end overnight.

" Most men, I believe, are good citizens according to their lights.

The Colonel concluded, saying: "Well, you're getting the sermon you missed by not going to church, and I have been talking religion. It's something I do very seldom. After all, one's religion is a private thing and one is apt to be misunderstood.

"So — if I should say publicly or you should print one half of what we have said here today, some half baked ass of a preacher would attack me tomorrow for endorsing the Pope; another because I am a Mohammedan at heart; and another would see in my tolerance for the rabbi proof that my right name is Rosenfelt or Rosen thai."