We can debate all day about whether or not founding fathers such as George Washington were evangelical Christians. Rather than judge their hearts, we are on safer ground by examining what they actually gave us.
Nonetheless, we will go ahead and indulge in a favorite evangelical pastime. That is, debating about whether or not Washington was a Christian. The assumption of the "pro" side is that if we can prove the founders were Christians, we thereby prove that the U.S. Constitution is Christian. The "con" side responds that the Constitution is not a Christian document and Christians are better off admitting it.
Most Christians are firmly convinced that Washington was a true blue, born-again, evangelical Christian. Others have their doubts.
One of the key questions is why did George Washington refuse to take communion for most of his adult life? For the serious Christian, such refusal is an act of self-excommunication.
Two hundred years from now some wannabee historians will seize on religious quotes by Barack Obama to prove that he was a Christian. Christians today do the same thing with Washington, but references to the Lord Jesus Christ in his voluminous collection of public and private papers are surprisingly scanty?
More important, defenders have to explain why George Washington occupied the rank of Grand Master in the Masonic lodge. Each promotion in the Masonic lodge requires taking an anti-Christian oath?
When it comes to Washington's religious/philosophical bent there is too much of a mythical nature to rely on anything other than primary source documents. These include such things as Washington's public and private correspondence and the writings of those who knew him well, like his pastor.
Washington and the Pietists
In the mid-20th Century, conservative Professor Paul Boller conducted an exhaustive study of Washington's public and private writings, together with statements by contemporaries. His book was entitled, George Washington & Religion.
Washington's pietistic biographers popularized an encyclopedia of stories about his religiosity based on hearsay and scanty evidence that could never hold up in a court. Far different was the story that emerged from Boller's study of the source documents.
The pietists include stories about Washington's rigorous devotional life and his partiality for taking communion in their particular denomination. In one account George Washington drew his pistol and fired on a subordinate who interrupted his devotions. Everyone read far more into Washington's religious pronouncements than actually existed.
Washington and His Pastor
People who were close to Washington knew better. Dr. James Abercrombie, his pastor at Christ Church in Philadelphia during his Presidency was skeptical about Washington's Christianity.
While his wife always went forward to kneel on communion Sunday, George Washington walked out the back door. When rebuked publically, he promised never to attend church on communion Sunday.
Dr. Abercrombie left us these words: "That Washington was a professing Christian, is evident from his regular attendance in our church; but, Sir, I cannot consider any man as a real Christian who uniformly disregards an ordinance so solemnly enjoined by the divine Author of our holy religion, and considered as a channel of divine grace."
But, as noted above, analyzing the personal faith of anybody is somewhat risky business. We are on safer ground with a careful examination of what the founders actually gave us. Their critical flaw was a failure to distinguish between the biblical covenant model and the man-centered social contract.
George Washington clearly valued Christianity as a socially cohesive force, but he saw it as the servant, not the master of government. He spoke often of the sovereignty of God, but his god was the Masonic Grand Architect of the universe.
Thus, he strongly encouraged chaplains in the Continental Army, but all of his senior officers were Masons. He also served as a leader in his local church, but only attended about once a month. Church attendance was part of his Masonic duty and a means of expressing his humanitarianism.
Evangelicals are quick to point out that the founders were not "Deistic." More likely they were Unitarian. While most were church members, men like Adams, Franklin, Jefferson, Madison and Washington, looked at Christ from a Unitarian perspective. That is, Jesus was not divine and certainly not relevant to the affairs of civil government.
By: Oliver Woods
For more information about the anti-Christian features of the U.S. Constitution visit www.america-betrayed-1787.com/us-constitution.html Dennis Woods is webmaster and also a political pollster and fundraiser in Oregon, using the Dog Catcher Campaign Strategy: www.america-betrayed-1787/gary-north.html