Today is not Presidents Day; your calendars are wrong. Federal law legislates today as George Washington's Birthday, and he is the only President we should be honoring today. Let's use today to clear up a myth about Washington's religion.
The early biographers of George Washington all assumed that he was unequivocally a Christian. He was a practicing Anglican and regularly recited the Apostles and the Nicene creeds. Biographer Henry Cabot Lodge wrote that Washington referred to Jesus Christ as "the Divine Author of our religion," and either Washington actually believed what he said or he was a "liar." Nobody ever accused Washington of being a liar or a hypocrite.
But then the modern biographers took over and spread the false notion that Washington and other Founding Fathers were deists who believed in a God who never intervened in human affairs. This has now been effectively refuted by the distinguished scholar Michael Novak in his book entitled Washington's God. Michael Novak examined Washington's public statements as well as his private correspondence and found that they are full of pleas to seek God's help and protection, and reveal his belief that God does give assistance to people when asked. Michael Novak proves conclusively that Washington believed that the "Divine Providence" whom he invoked so often was an active agent in human events. For example, here is one of General Washington's orders to his troops during the American Revolution: "The General commands all officers, and soldiers, . . . by their unfeigned and pious observances of their religious duties, [to] incline the Lord and Giver of Victory to prosper our arms."
Michael Novak makes an overwhelmingly persuasive case that Washington believed in a God who intervened to help the young American nation as His "chosen people." George Washington's contemporaries, who knew him best, had no doubt about his strong Christian beliefs.
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