THE FAITH OF GEORGE WASHINGTON
From the early twentieth century there has been an effort advanced to suggest that
founding fathers were, for the most part, Deists. Deism, as defined by Merriam-Webster,
is “a movement or system of thought advocating natural religion, emphasizing
morality.” Deists believe that God created the universe but chose to let it run
its own course, and is not involved in our lives in any personal way. In spite
of the efforts to re-write history, most of America ’s founding fathers were
evangelical Christians, not Deists. One needs only to read their writings as
well as the writings of those who knew them to ascertain their genuine Christian
George Washington was a devout Christian from his childhood throughout his life. He was raised in the Anglican Church, “The Church of England”. It wasn’t until the 1780’s that the Protestant Episcopal Church was formed in the colonies, when it was forced to separate from the Church of England. From that time until his death he attended the Episcopal church regularly, and served as a vestryman on various occasions.
also respected other Christian denominations and
frequently visited their churches. Washington
With the passing of time and the advancement of technology, we now have access to many more volumes of George Washington’s writings, as well as those of people who knew him very well. These writings overwhelmingly acknowledge his awareness of how God profoundly directed, protected, and blessed him throughout his life. Many of the people closest to him, including his adopted daughter Nelly, who lived with him until 1799, the year of her marriage and his death tell of his Christian faith. Robert Lewis, his nephew and private secretary during the early years of his presidency, was also well aware of and wrote of his personal habits of honoring the Sabbath, daily Bible reading, and prayer.
Prayer at |
Arnold Friberg, an artist, is probably best known for his painting of George Washington at
Valley Forge. It depicts
George Washington beside his horse on his knees in prayer at Valley Forge during the
winter of 1777-1778.
Some have questioned the authenticity of the story by the Quaker, and Senator from
, Isaac Potts regarding this event. However the Rev. Nathaniel
Snowden, an ordained Presbyterian minister, knew Isaac Potts and heard about
the occasion from him when he came upon General Washington, alone praying. Pennsylvania
"In that woods . . ., I heard a plaintive sound as, of a man at prayer . . . . to my astonishment I saw the great George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at Prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine aid, as it was ye Crisis, and the cause of the country, of humanity and of the world. 'Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying.'"
From the "Diary and Remembrances" of the Rev. Nathaniel Snowden
George Washington selected the Epitaph for his tombstone; it included no statement about his service as a General or as President. He chose John 11: 25, 26:
“I am the Resurection and the Life; sayeth the Lord.
He that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live.
And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.”