Monday, June 23, 2008

The Religious Paradox of George Washington

Of all of the founding fathers, there is perhaps no individual that has caused more debate, argument or curiosity than George Washington. As the general of the Continental Army and the first man to head the executive branch of the American republic, Washington has become a larger-than-life figure in the pantheon of national heroes. Or as Washington biographer, Joseph Ellis put it, Washington is “the palpable reality that clothed the revolutionary rhapsodies in flesh and blood, America’s one and only indispensable character…the American Zeus, Moses and Cincinnatus all rolled into one” (Joseph Ellis, Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation, 121). As the “Father of our nation,” Washington’s legacy has grown to Herculean proportions. As a result, the task of sifting through the myth, legend and folklore that regularly surrounds Washington has proven to be a daunting task for every generation of historians.

There is no better example of this historical quandary, which surrounds virtually every aspect of Washington’s life, than that of his religious beliefs. For nearly two centuries, Americans have fought over Washington’s personal theological philosophy in an effort to “claim” him as their own. Whether in the form of a politician, historian, minister, etc., the religious beliefs of George Washington have been subjected to the fires of partisan debate and spiritual deliberation.

There are a number of reasons that Washington stands out from his fellow founders. First of all is the simple fact that most of the other mainstream founders -- Franklin, Madison, Jefferson, Adams, etc. -- are relatively easy to understand in terms of their religious beliefs. Washington, however, is a different story. As a man who “developed the most notorious model of self-control in all of American history,” Washington has been dubbed “the original marble man” for his desire for personal privacy and mystery (Joseph Ellis, His Excellency, 37). Even Washington’s favorite guide, Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior, a book he recited throughout his life, contain insights into Washington’s reclusive nature:


35th Let your Discourse with Men of Business be Short and Comprehensive.

73d Think before you Speak pronounce not imperfectly nor bring out your Words too hastily but orderly & distinctly.

88th Be not tedious in Discourse, make not many Digressigns, nor repeat often the Same manner of Discourse.
It therefore comes as no surprise that a man of such seclusion would prove very difficult to pinpoint on the religious spectrum.

In addition to Washington’s desire to cultivate privacy, the following factors have also made it very difficult to ascertain with any level of certainty Washington’s religious beliefs:

1.) As the most celebrated founding father, Washington has become a “holy grail” of sorts for both Christian enthusiasts and secular devotees. In essence, Washington is the Tiger Woods of founding fathers.
2.) The sheer lack of “smoking gun” evidence to support Washington’s Christian orthodoxy or devotion to deism makes any clear-cut classification of Washington into either camps look factually foolish.
3.) Current trends in American pop-culture seem to distort the historical record regarding Washington’s religious beliefs.

As a result, Washington's religious views have become an enigma or paradox of sorts for historians and theologians alike.

To pinpoint Washington on the religious spectrum, we must first eliminate deism as having any serious influence on Washington. To be considered a true deist, one must reject the belief that a supreme being intervenes in the affairs of men. Simply put, Washington does not meet this definition. In a number of his letters, Washington regularly pointed to the hand of providence as being regularly involved in the affairs of men. In a letter to Governor Trumball, Washington writes:

"Allow me to return you my sincere thanks for the kind wishes and favorable Sentiments express'd in yours of the 13th Instant. As the Cause of our common Country, calls us both to an active and dangerous Duty, I trust that Divine Providence, which wisely orders the Affairs of Men, will enable us to discharge it with Fidelity and Success" [my emphasis].
In his General Orders to the Continental Army, Washington insisted that "Next to the favour of divine providence, nothing is more essentially necessary to give this Army the victory over all its enemies, than Exactness of discipline" [my emphasis]. Other examples of Washington giving praise to providence can be found here and here.

With deism being eliminated as a possible definition for Washington's faith, we are left to ascertain to what level Washington embraced Christianity. To do this, it is important that we first define what orthodox Christianity would look like in Washington’s world. Having been born into the Anglican faith, Washington -- like every other Anglican of the 18th century -- was expected to adhere to certain creeds, which demonstrated his piety and devotion to God. Of course we cannot simply assume that Washington was a devout Anglican simply from his membership in that church because, after all, baptism was performed at infancy. This means that to resolve the "Paradox" of Washington's faith we must look at what he chose to do as an adult.

The Communion Debate
One of the first points that people look at to prove Washington's piety or the lack thereof is the practice of communion. The 39 Articles of faith of the Church of England are a perfect illustration of some of the basic beliefs that a devout Anglican was expected to embrace. When it comes to the practice of communion, the articles state the following:


Article XXV: Of the Sacraments
Sacraments ordained of Christ be not only badges or tokens of Christian men's profession, but rather they be certain sure witnesses, and effectual signs of grace, and God's good will towards us, by the which he doth work invisibly in us, and doth not only quicken, but also strengthen and confirm our Faith in him.

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord's Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

The Sacraments were not ordained of Christ to be gazed upon, or to be carried about, but that we should duly use them. And in such only as worthily receive the same have they a wholesome effect or operation: but they that receive them unworthily purchase to themselves damnation, as Saint Paul saith.

Article XXVIII: Of the Lord's Supper
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another; but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.

The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper is Faith.

The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.

Article XXIX: Of the Wicked which do not eat the Body of Christ in the use of the Lord's Supper
The Wicked, and such as be void of a lively faith, although they do carnally and visibly press with their teeth (as Saint Augustine saith) the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ, yet in no wise are they partakers of Christ: but rather, to their condemnation, do eat and drink the sign or Sacrament of so great a thing.

Article XXX: Of both kinds
The Cup of the Lord is not to be denied to the Lay-people; for both the parts of the Lord's Sacrament, by Christ's ordinance and commandment, ought to be ministered to all Christian men alike.

Or as John 6:53 states:

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

From the very doctrine of the Anglican Church, it is clear that communion was a divinely-sanctioned practice that was required of the orthodox believer.

Now, as most enthusiasts of early American religion know, Washington's participation in communion has been a hotly debated issue. Those who argue in defense of Washington's Christian orthodoxy will regularly dismiss this issue by claiming that an individual does not need to take the Lord's Supper to be a Christian. While this may be true, let us keep in mind that AS AN ANGLICAN, Washington had been raised to revere communion as a holy institution that was required of the devout believer. In other words, to be considered ORTHODOX in belief, an individuals participation in the Lord's Supper is a good barometer.

Unfortunately for historians, there are no surviving documents from Washington to help shed light on this issue. However, there are a number of documents from Washington's contemporaries, which prove very helpful in this debate. For example, Dr. James Abercrombie, who was the assistant rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia, stated the following in regards to Washington's participation in communion:

[O]n Sacrament Sundays, Gen'l Washington, immediately after the Desk and Pulpit services, went out with the greater part of the congregation, always leaving Mrs. Washington with the communicants, she invariably being one, I considered it my duty, in a sermon on Public Worship, to sate the unhappy tendency of example, particularly of those in elevated stations, who invariably turned their backs upon the celebration of the Lord's Supper. I acknowledge the remark was intended for the President, and, as such, he received it. A few days after, in conversation with, I believe, a Senator of the U. S., he told me he had dined the day before with the President, who, in the course of conversation at the table, said, that on the preceding Sunday, he had received a very just reproof from the public, for always leaving the church before the administration of the Sacrament; that he honored the preacher for his integrity and candour; that he had never considered the influence of his example; that he would never again give cause for the repetition of the reproof; and that, as he had never become a communicant, were he to become one then, it would be imputed to an ostentatious display of religious zeal arising altogether from his elevated station. Accordingly, he afterwards never came on the morning of Sacrament Sundays, tho', at other times, constant attending in the morning...

...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
[my emphasis].
In another account, Bishop William White states:

In regard to the subject of your inquiry, truth requires me to say, that General Washington never received communion, in the churches of which I am a parochial minister.
From the noted evidence, Washington's participation in the Lord's Supper, an ordinance of great importance to the Anglican Church, is highly in doubt.

In defense of Washington, there are those who point out that Dr. James Abercrombie and Bishop William White were ardent loyalists during the American Revolution, and could have distorted the facts surrounding Washington's faith. In addition, some also suggest the possibility that Washington refused communion because of the political leanings of these ministers, or possibly because he did not feel worthy. As 1 Corinthians 11:29 states:

For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
In the end, the communion issue is a difficult one to pinpoint with any degree of certainty. Though the accounts of Washington's avoidance to take communion are quite strong, we will never be able to ascertain Washington's state of mind regarding this ordinance. Perhaps he avoided communion because he thought of it as a silly practice, or perhaps he felt personally unworthy to partake of Christ's flesh and blood. Whatever the reason, the fact that Washington purposely avoided communion is a significant component in determining his faith.

Washington and Prayer
Another issue that regularly comes up when discussing the faith of George Washington is prayer. Virtually every American has seen the infamous painting of the General on his knees in the snow of Valley Forge, humbly beseeching the God of heaven for his protection and blessings. As I have argued in a former post, the Prayer at Valley Forge is almost certainly as mythical a story as that of the Cherry Tree or the Silver Dollar. What is not disputed, however, is the fact that Washington was very much a man of devout prayer. In his 1200 page biography of Washington, author Peter Lillback provides a large collection of what he calls Washington's "written prayers." This collection in and of itself serves to prove the fact that Washington prayed on a regular basis. As a result, those who dispute Washington's devotion to prayer find their argument on very shaky ground. On the other hand, these "written prayers" still raise serious doubts about Washington being an orthodox believer. For example, here are the actual phrases that Washington used in his "written prayers" to describe divinity, along with the number of times they were used:

"Providence" - 26 times
"Heaven" -25 times
"God" - 16 times
"Almighty God" - 8 times
"Lord" - 5 times
"Almighty" - 5 times
"Author of all Blessings" - 3 times
"Author of the Universe" - 3 times
"God of Armies" - 3 times
"Giver of Victory" - 3 times
"Great Ruler of the Universe" - 2 times
"Divine Protector" - 2 times
"Ruler of Nations" - 2 times
"Particular Favor of Heaven" - 2 times
"Divine Author of Life and Felicity" - 2 times
"Author of Nations" - 1 time
"Divine Being" - 1 time
"Allwise Dispenser of Human Blessings" - 1 time
"Supreme giver of all good Gifts" - 1 time
"Sovereign Dispenser of Life and Health" - 1 time
"Source and Benevolent Bestower of all good" - 1 time
"Power which has Sustained American arms" - 1 time
"Allwise Providence" - 1 time
"Infinite Wisdom" - 1 time
"Eye of Omnipotence" - 1 time
"Divine Author of our Blessed Religion" - 1 time
"Omnipotent being" - 1 time
"Great Spirit" - 1 time
"Glorious being" - 1 time
"Supreme being" - 1 time
"Almighty being" - 1 time
"Creator" - 1 time
"Jesus Christ" - 0
"Salvation" - 0
"Messiah" - 0
"Savior" - 0
"Redeemer" - 0
"Jehovah" - 0

With such a large assortment of phrases, I find it amazing that Lillback does not provide a single example of where Washington prayed to Jesus specifically or directly.

Along with the actual wordage of Washington's prayers, a number of historians and skeptics point to the fact that Washington did not kneel in prayer. As Bishop White stated:

The father of our country, whenever in this city, as well as during the Revolutionary Was as during his presidency, attended divine service in Christ Church of this city...His behavior was always serious and attentive; but as your letter seems to intend an inquiry on the point of kneeling during the service, I owe it to truth to declare, that I never saw him in the said attitude.
While this may seem like a mundane issue -- and I would agree with such an assessment -- a number of historians use this point to illustrate Washington's distrust of pious religion. Though this may be the case, I believe that the larger issue, the fact that Washington DID pray, is of far greater importance.

As was the case with his participation in communion, Washington's prayers are, at best, very contradictory evidence. The fact that he prayed should be obvious to anyone. However, to whom he was praying to is in question. Though he was not known to have knelt in prayer, Washington was, in the end, a devout man of prayer.

To be (a Christian) or not to be (a Christian). That is the question.

As noted above, any argument of Washington being a deist is historically inaccurate and, quite frankly, silly. On the other side of the coin, to what degree Washington accepted and embraced the Christian faith -- and more specifically his Anglican faith -- is difficult to ascertain with any degree of certainty. For example, Dr. James Abercrombie publicly questioned Washington's Christianity when he wrote:

I do not believe that any degree of recollection would bring to my mind any fact which would prove General Washington to have been a believer in the Christian revelation; further than as may be hoped from his constant attendance on Christian worship, in connection with the natural reserve of his character.
On the other hand, Washington's adopted daughter, Nelly Custis, had this to say regarding Washington's faith:

I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. 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.
Again, this religious paradox of George Washington makes it almost impossible to say conclusively what Washington's feelings towards Christianity actually were.

To add another level of complexity to this argument, Christian apologists, who argue for Washington's orthodoxy, regularly site his letter to the Delaware Indian chiefs in May of 1779. In the letter, Washington states that these Indian Tribes, would "do well to wish to learn our arts and ways of life, and above all, the religion of Jesus Christ." In contrast, those who favor the secularism of Washington counter with his 1796 letter to a group of Indian tribes, in which he invokes the "Great Spirit" of the Indian people. Yet again, an obvious contradiction prevents us from conclusively pinpointing Washington's view on Christianity.

One last thing to consider is the impact of unitarianism -- small u as Jon Rowe points out -- on the religion of our founding generation. Instead of making that argument here, I will simply refer you to an earlier posting that I did on this specific issue. You can find it by clicking here.

In conclusion, though the religious paradox of George Washington prevents us from determining his exact beliefs, we are still able to make a few general conclusions:

1.) Washington was not a deist.
2.) It is virtually impossible to classify Washington as a Christian in the orthodox sense. The evidence available suggests otherwise. His lack of participation in communion, coupled with the absence of Christian supplication in prayer, creates more than a reasonable doubt on this matter.
3.) Washington was a man of prayer.
4.) At the very least, Washington maintained a deep appreciation and allegiance to Christianity. This is evidenced by his regular attendance and his devotion to Christian principles.
5.) Maybe most importantly, Washington's religion is the quintessential enigma of early American religious history.

So how should we classify Washington? Perhaps it would be smart, based on the body of evidence, to not classify him at all. However, in my opinion, I see Washington as a Christian-leaning unitarian.

22 comments:

Lindsey Shuman said...

Brad,

In my opinion this is the most complete posting on Washington's religion that I have seen. Though I still tend to believe that Washington was more unitarian and less Christian, I cannot argue with your reasoning or your evidence.

Well done!

Brian Tubbs said...

Excellent article, Brad. I think "Christian-leaning unitarian" is possibly accurate. I would say that it is the most plausible of the non-Christian definitions made for Washington.

However, two things I must point out...

1) In his book, Peter Lillback provides evidence that Washington did, on occasion, take Communion in his adult life. This runs counter to the assumptions and assertions made by several historians, but the evidence Lillback cites is compelling (including an account by Alexander Hamilton's wife).

2) The most that can be said of Washington's declining Communion is that he wasn't a good Anglican or Episcopalian. To be a Christian, one needs to profess Jesus Christ as his or her divine and risen Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

Brad Hart said...

Thanks for the comments, Lindsey and Brian. I appreciate you taking the time to read this.

Brian, one of the reasons I chose to not site Lillback's references to Washington taking communion is because their authenticity has been in question for some time. Perhaps I should have at least mentioned briefly the fact that they exist, but I chose not to. One of the sources that Lillback uses to show Washington taking communion comes from the Reverend Nathaniel Snowden, who was severely chastised for his lack of credibility in his accounts of Washington praying at Valley Forge. With that said, I am glad you brought it up, because these sources should be discussed.

On your second point, you state:
The most that can be said of Washington's declining Communion is that he wasn't a good Anglican or Episcopalian. To be a Christian, one needs to profess Jesus Christ as his or her divine and risen Lord (Romans 10:9-10).

While I agree with your reasoning, I think that the main purpose behind bringing attention to the communion issue is because, for an Anglican, this was a big deal. My reference to the 39 Articles of faith of the Church of England I think illustrates this. However, I think that your point should be considered because Washington may have had the same mindset. Nobody can say for sure.

In the end, I think that if people want to call Washington a Christian they need to define EXACTLY what they mean by "Christian." I think we can all agree that the evidence shows Washington to be a half-hearted Anglican at best and certainly NOT an orthodox Anglican Christian.

The reason I go with Christian-leaning unitarian is because I believe Washington PREFERED Christianity, but did not EXCLUSIVELY endorse its orthodox principles. In other words, Washington adopted a number of Christian ideas, but also rejected some as well, hence his being partly unitarian.

Again, thanks for the comments!

Jonathan said...

I can't take the claims of GW communing too seriously. They are based on 2nd and 3rd hand accounts and refer only to some individual instances where people could have "remembered" after the fact something that didn't happen (Eliza Hamilton's recollection -- correct me if I am wrong -- was in her 90s!).

Nelly Custis, James Abercrombie and Bishop Meade all witnessed his systematic behavior over and over again. And they all testify he didn't commune.

I also agree with Brian that this shows Washington wasn't the best "Anglican" or "Episcopalian," not necessarily not a "Christian." But my understanding of the case for GW's orthodoxy is connected to his being a devoted as opposed to a nominal Anglican.

GW almost never talked in orthodox Trinitarian terms. The entire case for his Trinitarianism is tied to his Anglicanism or Episcopalianism.

Great post by the way!

Jonathan said...

Also,

I think this is an error:

When you said "Dr. James Abercrombie publicly questioned Washington's Christianity when he wrote:

'I do not believe that any degree of recollection would bring to my mind....'"

I'm pretty sure this was Bishop White, not James Abercrombie.

Pinky said...

Brad Hart bases his entire argument on this single statement, "To be considered a true deist, one must reject the belief that a supreme being intervenes in the affairs of men," from which he proceeds to prove that George Washington must have been a "pure Christian".
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Of course, in such a short and focused paper, it's almost impossible to do the questions involved full justice.

This may seem like a tangent:

Unless I am sadly mistaken, the idea that G.W. was "first in the hearts of his countrymen" is relative to the issue. He was the original Great Communicator of America's presidents, which means he was able to identify with the people who thought so highly of him.

Among other things, whatever schooling most Americans had in those days, the Bible was central most to their reading experiences. Other books were not so freely available. So, the common vernacular must have had a somewhat biblical twist to it. Most people could understand a point made using some biblical reference, I am sure of that.

When it comes to Deism, there is no more reason to believe there were "pure Deists" than there is reason to believe there were "pure Christians".

So, to say that because George Washington was not a "pure Deist" he must have been a "pure Christian" is a jump that I am not about to buy.
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Sorry, Brad, I think your argument fails. Maybe you can overcome my objection?
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Brad Hart said...

What the...

That's not my argument at all. I have no idea where you came up with that. Where do I argue for Washington being a "pure Christian?" In fact, I argue exactly the opposite. Read the post again

Pinky said...

I printed the post out and read it. All eight pages.
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It is based on your original statement where you discount the possibility of G.W. being a Deist based on YOUR definition of "Pure Deism". So, I took it that you were talking about "purity" here.
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Therefor, in your response, it seems that you must be connoting that there is an idea of what it means to be a "pure" Christian.
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If purity is the important point in Deism, then, I guess you ARE saying that G.W. is a "Pure Christian".
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Other than that, your argument falls apart.n Which means you might want to work on it a little bit?
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Brian Tubbs said...

Pink, Brad is saying that Washington was not a Deist, but rather a "Christian-leaning unitarian." Those were his exact words.

Brian Tubbs said...

Brad, I would be more comfortable going the other way. Instead of calling GW a "Christian-leaning unitarian," I can accept that he was a "unitarian-leaning Christian." :-)

I know that may sound like I'm splitting hairs, but I think George Washington's deliberate and public association with the Anglican (later Episcopalian) church shows him to be a professing Christian. In that very real sense, George Washington professed to be a Christian. He stood with the Christian camp.

HOWEVER...he rarely took Communion, did not speak of Jesus very often (not even in his personal correspondence), and was most comfortable talking about God in providential, general terms. So, I'm not as far from you and Jon Rowe as you might think.

So, I would classify him as a Christian with unitarian tendencies. He was clearly not comfortable advancing orthodox trinitarian doctrine in his speeches and writings, but he didn't deny it either - unless his refusal to take Communion is counted as such, but I think that's too great an assumption.

Brad Hart said...

Pinky:

What are you talking about? Sorry, but you either didn't read the posting or you speak another language. Your comment isn't even worth a response because you are so far out in left field.

Quit ASSUMING that I must be talking about PURITY because I AM NOT!

BTW, I love how you think my argument "falls apart" but then you offer no evidence other than your lame definition of deism, which, by the way, is totally off.

Pinky said...

OK, so I took your use of the word, true, to mean pure. Sorry about that; but, the words seem to mean the same thing as I read what you say here:
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"To pinpoint Washington on the religious spectrum, we must first eliminate deism as having any serious influence on Washington. To be considered a true deist, one must reject the belief that a supreme being intervenes in the affairs of men. Simply put, Washington does not meet this definition. In a number of his letters, Washington regularly pointed to the hand of providence as being regularly involved in the affairs of men.
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So, in my post above, you can cut the word, pure, out and put the word, true, in its place. It ends up with the same conclusion.
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I was careful to state that my comments might "seem like a tangent". If you don't understand my point about the vernacular, I will be happy to explain myself.

Pinky said...

The ideas of TRUE and PURE as you use the word, true, are almost identical according to how I understand what you have written.
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Am I wrong? How?
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You claim that "[my] lame definition of deism ... is totally off."
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We went down this road before. Your claim is that Deists in the eighteenth century held that God never interfered in the day to day life of humans. I am sure that was true of many Deists. It doesn't take a lot of reading to learn that Deism was not organized during G.W.'s time, so Deist beliefs varied. Some Deists believed some things about God and others believed something else.
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Do you claim that people took some sort of an oath in order to be seen as a Deist?
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I am not arguing one way or the other about G.W. as I never knew him and can't speak on his behalf.
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I do believe, however, that any early American leaders would have had to present themselves to the public in the common vernacular. Biblical concepts and stories were common to most people.
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Pinky said...

To be clear, this statement of mine, "It doesn't take a lot of reading to learn that Deism was not organized during G.W.'s time, so Deist beliefs varied", means to convey the fact that Deism had no organized groups or "denominations". The general concept was fairly well known; but, there were no "fundamentals" to which a Deist had to subscribe.

Pinky said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lindsey Shuman said...

Pinky:

Your rude comments are not welcome on this blog. Either get your act together or quit visiting the site. Your claims are ridiculous, your reasoning lacking, and your knowledge absent. Brad clearly has a good argument that you do not understand in the least, so quit! I'm just glad that he has chosen to ignore your lame arguments!

Pinky said...

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What kind of scholasticism requires learners to adhere to some particular school so much so that questions are thrown out based on the fact that a spokes person for that school is allowed to insult the learner for questioning the established authority?
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The question regarding G.W.'s religiosity is not settled even thought you have judged it to be.
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BTW, where have I been rude to Brad Hart?
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Pinky said...

It appears that I may have breached some barriers of desired behavior at this sight.
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In any event, I have searched out sources regarding the questions I have raised.
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I will admit that my choice of words might not express what I meant to put over. For this, I apologize to any person who may have taken any exception to what I wrote.
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I agree with Brad Hart that G.W. could not be considered a "true Deist" according to what was considered "true Deism" during the eighteenth century. But, focusing on that point confuses the issue raised in his paper.
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G.W. was~~most certainly~~heavily influenced by eighteenth century Deism no matter his religiosity. All of the Founders were so influenced by that. As such, they can be considered to have been deistic in their thinking.
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If this were a completely private blog where only the washed were able to attend, I would honor lindsey shuman's suggestion I no longer visit here; but, seeing as I might represent others who also question what is written and~~further~~that I like to learn, I will continue to come here as long as it pleases me.
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Pinky said...

If I'm not mistaken, the post that was deleted, above, was mine.
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The only thing I can imagine that caused shuman to delete it was that I made a statement that Hart had said I was lame brained.
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Other than that, the post tied the controversy over the founding of Kings College to the idea of Colonial attitudes regarding communicants in the Anglican Church. And, I asked if that might have something to do with Washington's rare visits at Anglican communion services.
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But, the reader will never know because my speech was abridged.

BB2nite said...

Isn't there a painting of Washington actually taking communion? Where can it be found? Anyone know? Thanks.

Brad Hart said...

bb2nite:

I know of no painting that shows Washington taking communion. In fact, I have never even heard of it.

BB2nite said...

Though I haven't seen it, a friend describes such a painting of which he has a print, but in black and white. He wants a color copy. I am convinced it exists, but cannot locate it. Anyone?