George Washington

Secularists have frequently leveled the charge that George Washington was a Deist. If the father of this nation wasn't a Christian, they reason, we would be hard-pressed to demonstrate that America itself has Christian roots. Again, the facts resoundingly refute the revisionists on this point. The skeptics refer to Washington's generic references to "Providence" rather than to Christ as proof of his non-Christianity. But that is selective reporting at its most egregious. Washington was a dedicated vestryman in the Episcopal Church. His mother, a strong Christian, trained him in the habit of prayer to the God of the Bible.

The secularists will have a hard time explaining Washington's twenty-four-page personal daily prayer book, "The Daily Sacrifice," in which appear his favorite prayers in his own handwriting. A perusal of the pages of the little book conclusively shows that he was not a Deist. His Sunday morning prayer, for example, ends with, "pardon, I beseech Thee, my sins, remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of Thy son Jesus Christ ... Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God and guide this day and forever for His sake, who lay down in the grave and rose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." His Sunday evening prayer closes with, "These weak petitions, I humbly implore Thee to hear, accept and answer for the sake of Thy Dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen." And in Monday morning's prayer, he asked, "Daily frame me more and more into the likeness of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, that living in Thy fear, and dying in Thy favor, I may in Thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life."

Other Washington quotes unmistakably affirm his Christianity. In a speech to the Delaware Indian Chiefs, he said, "You do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ ... Congress will do everything they can to assist you in this wise intention." Washington urged the troops under his command "to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier."

D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe speculate that "the quiet dignity of his faith may have in some way helped create the misunderstandings about what [Washington] believed." They may find support for their theory in the very words of Washington's mother herself, who issued him this admonition as he was leaving her for a life of service, "Remember that God is our only sure trust. To Him, I commend you My son, neglect not the duty of secret prayer." Kennedy and Newcombe relate that Martha Washington's granddaughter, Nelly Custis, was very upset that people questioned Washington's Christian faith. In a letter to historian Jared Sparks, she wrote, "His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, 'that they may be seen of men: He communed with his God in secret." John Marshall, chief justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835, made a similar observation about Washington. "Without making ostentatious professions of religion, he was a sincere believer in the Christian faith, and a truly devout man."

David Barton agrees that Washington was a strong Christian. But he goes farther and suggests that Washington "was an open promoter of Christianity. For example, in his speech on May 12, 1779, he claimed that what children needed to learn 'above all' was the'religion of Jesus Christ,' and that to learn this would make them 'greater and happier than they already are."

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