Was George Washington a Deist?

Secular revisionists have been fervently working to re-write American history. Their goal is to remove all vestiges of Christianity and the Bible from our nation’s history. In the process, they are actively trying to portray many of the Founding Fathers as being non-religious or deists at best.

Deists believe that God created the earth and universe and then sat back and just watches what goes on. The deist god does not get involved in his creation. He doesn’t get involved in people’s lives or in what goes on with princes or principalities. He does not answer prayer nor does he bestow blessings on anyone. The deist god is like watching a movie on television, where it is impossible to interact with the actors or sets. He just sits there and watches.

Among the Founding Fathers that are largely being portrayed as deists is George Washington, the first President of the United States. For instance:

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“Deists have a great example of toleration, perseverance, and integrity in the person of fellow Deist George Washington.”

Most of this article will be Washington’s own words, not mine.  I will let you be the judge. But before hearing from this great man, let me share some observations made by others of Washington.

When Washington was only a lad of 13, he kept a small booklet in which he wrote many things. Among them was a list titled: Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation. Most of these rules dealt with things like modesty, self-restraint and consideration of others. The last three rules that he wrote in his booklet were:

“108th. When you speak of God or his Attributes, let it be Seriously & [with words of] Reverence, Honor & Obey your Natural Parents altho they be poor.


109th. Let your Recreations be Manful not Sinful.


110th. Labor to keep alive in your Breast that little Spark of Celestial fire called Conscience.”

During the Revolutionary War, a number of people, both military and civilian, wrote similar observations of General Washington’s personal daily routine. Every day, if possible, Washington would rise at least an hour earlier than necessary and leave the encampment. He would find a quiet secluded place, and regardless of the weather or the ground conditions, he would kneel and spend the next hour in prayer and meditation. At the end of the day, after all of his official duties were done, Washington would again leave the encampment to spend an hour on his knees in prayer. Among those that wrote about Washington’s daily habit of prayer were Benson J. Lossing, Devault Beaver, Dr. James Snowden and General Knox.

The Reverend Mason Weems recorded that on one occasion, Isaac Potts, a Tory Quaker happened on Washington in this daily routine and relayed this to him:

“I had occasion to pass through the woods near headquarters. Treading in his way along the venerable grove, suddenly he heard the sound of a human voice, which, as he advanced, increased in his ear; and at length became like the voice of one speaking much in earnest. As he approached the spot with a cautious step, whom should he behold, in a dark natural bower of ancient oaks, but the Commander-in-chief of the American armies on his knees at prayer! Motionless with surprise, Friend Potts continued on the place till the general, having ended his devotions, arose, and, with a countenance of angelic serenity, retired to headquarters.


Friend Potts then went home, and on entering his parlor called out to his wife, ‘Sarah! my dear Sarah! All’s well! all’s well! George Washington will yet prevail.’


‘What’s the matter, Isaac?’ replied she; ‘thee seems moved.’


‘Well, if I seem moved, ’tis no more than what I really am. I have this day seen what I never expected. Thee knows that I always thought that the sword and the gospel were utterly inconsistent; and that no man could be a soldier and a Christian at the same time. But George Washington has this day convinced me of my mistake.’

He then related what he had seen, and concluded with this prophetical remark!

‘If George Washington be not a man of God, I am greatly deceived—and still more shall I be deceived, if God do not, through him, work out a great salvation for America.’”

In 1891, a number of Washington’s personal items and relics were sold at auction in Philadelphia by some of his descendants. Among these items was another small book, written by Washington’s own hands entitled Daily Sacrifice. According to the family sources selling the items, Washington wrote or copied twenty-four pages of daily prayers when in his early 20’s. As you read them, remember the definition of what a deist is and what they believe:

“Sunday Morning


Almighty God, and most merciful father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise thee for thy protection both night and day; receive, O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee;…


Sunday Evening


O most Glorious God, in Jesus Christ my merciful and loving father, I acknowledge and confess my guilt, in the weak and imperfect performance of the duties of this day. I have called on thee for pardon and forgiveness of sins, but so coldly and carelessly, that my prayers are become my sin and stand in need of pardon…


Monday Morning


O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep…


Monday Evening


Most Gracious Lord God, from whom proceedeth every good and perfect gift, I offer to thy divine majesty my unfeigned praise & thanksgiving for all thy mercies towards me. Thou mad’st me at first and hast ever since sustained the work of thy own hand; thou gav’st thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerely endeavoring to conform my life to his holy precepts and example…


Tuesday Morning


O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I thine unworthy creature and servant, do once more approach thy presence. Though not worthy to appear before thee, because of my natural corruptions, and the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against thy divine majesty; yet I beseech thee, for the sake of him in whom thou art well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ,


Tuesday Evening


Most gracious God and heavenly father, we cannot cease, but must cry unto thee for mercy, because my sins cry against me for justice. How shall I address myself unto thee, I must with the publican stand and admire at thy great goodness, tender mercy, and long suffering towards me, in that thou hast kept me the past day from being consumed and brought to nought…


A Prayer For Wednesday Morning


Almighty and eternal Lord God, the great creator of heaven & earth, and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; look down from heaven, in pity and compassion upon me thy servant, who humbly prostrate myself before thee, sensible of thy mercy and my own misery; there is an infinite distance between thy glorious majesty and me, thy poor creature, the work of thy hand,…


Wednesday Evening


Holy and eternal Lord God who art the King of heaven, and the watchman of Israel, that never slumberest or sleepest, what shall we render unto thee for all thy benefits; because thou hast inclined thine ears unto me, therefore will I call on thee as long as I live, from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same let thy name be praised,…


Thursday Morning


Most gracious Lord God, whose dwelling is in the highest heavens, and yet beholdest the lowly and humble upon earth, I blush and am ashamed to lift up my eyes to thy dwelling place, because I have sinned against thee; look down, I beseech thee upon me thy unworthy servant who prostrate myself at the footstool of thy mercy, confessing my own guiltiness, and begging pardon for my sins; what couldst thou have done Lord more for me, or what could I have done more against thee?”

On July 2, 1776, Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, George Washington was preparing his troops, gathered on Long Island, to meet the British forces in and around New York City. The Continental Congress was gathered in Philadelphia to finalize their formal Declaration of Independence which would be signed and presented two days later. In his General Orders for the day, Washington wrote that we as a nation were to serve under God:

“The time is now near at hand which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen or slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a state of wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance or the most object submission; this is all we can expect.


We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die: Our own country’s honor, all call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion, and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world.


Let us therefore rely upon the goodness of the cause, and the aid of the supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny mediated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other and show the whole world that a freeman contending for liberty on his own ground is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth.”

In May of 1778, while at Valley Forge, Washington wrote a letter to Landon Carter in which he wrote:

“My friends, therefore, may believe me sincere in my professions of attachment to them, whilst Providence has a just claim to my humble and grateful thanks for its protection and direction of me through the many difficult and intricate scenes which this contest has produced; and for its constant interposition in our behalf, when the clouds were heaviest and seemed ready to burst upon us.


To paint the distresses and perilous situation of this army in the course of last winter, for want of clothes, provisions, and almost every other necessary essential to the well-being, I may say existence, of an army, would require more time and an abler pen than mine; nor, since our prospects have so miraculously brightened, shall I attempt it, or even bear it in remembrance, further than as a memento of what is due to the great Author of all the care and good that have been extended in relieving us in difficulties and distresses.

In August of 1778, from White Plains, New York, Washington wrote a letter to Brigadier General Nelson of Virginia:

“The hand of Providence has been conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations. But it will be time enough for me to turn preacher when my present appointment ceases; and therefore I shall add no more on the doctrine of Providence.

Reluctant at first, George Washington did not believe himself to be worthy to hold the position of the first president of the new nation. Eventually he was persuaded to accept the position. On April 30, 1789, Washington delivered his First Inaugural Address in New York City to the newly elected Senate and House of Representatives.  In this historic address Washington acknowledges the providence of God [emphasis mine]:

“Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:


…Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow- citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.


… I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.


…Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.”

Upon delivering his inaugural address, Washington led the rest of the newly elected politicians and leaders to a local church for prayer and to give thanks to Almighty God for blessing the new nation.

Washington’s second term as President was to expire on March 4, 1797. Several months prior to the end of his second term, Washington wrote a Farewell Address to the People of the United States. The address was published in the American Daily Advertiser on September 19, 1796 and subsequently printed and distributed throughout the land. In his Farewell Address, Washington again reflected upon his firm belief in an active, not deistic, God who blessed the nation [emphasis mine]:

“Friends and Citizens:

The period for a new election of a citizen to administer the executive government of the United States being not far distant, and the time actually arrived when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person who is to be clothed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those out of whom a choice is to be made.

…Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.


It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?


…Though, in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of intentional error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall also carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence; and that, after forty five years of my life dedicated to its service with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.”

These are not the actions or words of a deist.

In 1955, the U.S. House of Representatives opened a Congressional Prayer Room on their side of the Capitol Rotunda. Behind the altar in the Congressional Prayer Room is a stained glass image of George Washington kneeling in prayer with the following inscription:

Preserve me O God for in thee do I put my trust. Psalm 16:1

Surely this beautiful piece of stained glass artwork would not have been included in the Congressional Prayer Room if Washington believed in a God who never answered prayer.

From his youth at age 13, to his young adult years in the 20’s to his war years and later years as President, there has been nothing in Washington’s own words that give any indication of him being a deist. His own words show his belief in an active, ruling and benevolent God, the God of the Bible who answered prayer and took part in the daily lives of believers and nations.

It is our duty as Christians and Americans to retain the true history of our nation and the great men and women who sacrificed so much to form it. I would hope and pray that all of you will share this article with all your friends, families and acquaintances and help keep the truth about George Washington’s Christian faith alive.

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