Misrepresenting the Facts:
Never Good For Anyone
Just to be on the side of accuracy, the infamous George Washington "Prayer for America" wasn't really a prayer. Rather it was from a letter to the 13 Governors after the Revolutionary War regarding the disbanding of the army.
Here's an interesting look at the situation:
I am a Christian, Lutheran to be exact, but I believe that misrepresentation of the facts is never good nor helpful to anyone. Your site is interesting and informative. Your research is impressive.
From: "Positive Atheism" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Betsy Braddock"
Subject: Re: Website -- George Washington "Prayer"
Date: August 04, 2004 12:12
It's refreshing when we hear from folks (of any stripe) who think for themselves. I long ago stopped thinking of theists and theism as being my opponents. If anybody ends up being the object of my critical eye, it usually turns out to be the fundamentalists (both atheistic and religious).
I'll find a way to use that URL to bolster trust in our presentation concerning that "prayer," a presentation which is part of a larger one on, "Washington's Silent Lack of Piety."
Washington believed, to be sure, but it appears that faith, to him, was not really that big of a deal. In addition, the evidence strongly suggests that his faith was probably rooted in the god of Deism, the god of (old-school) Unitarianism (before the merger with Universalism), in short, the god of Spinoza. This was the faith of almost all the elite at the time. That particular school of Deism's most fundamental idea was that those who would see the face of God must look for it by studying His handiwork: creation. Every one of the first six Presidents, besides their regular profession, were also scientists (what we would today call "science buffs"). This was their religion: this was the "ritual" (the non-ritual, actually) through which they sought and found God!
My Great-Grandfather was a Unitarian minister (old-school Deism), and he was very much attracted to science for this very reason: he left us a telescope and a microscope. The latter included a slide with a tiny pinpoint on it, preserved under glass. This pinpoint was a copy of the Lord's prayer, set in clear, very legible typeface, probably Century Schoolbook. Unfortunately, berg-you-lars grabbed numerous of the antiques that Mom's Grandpa left to us. With those items they took from me the luster of my zeal for science. Much of what fuelled my rebellion then was the fact that several family members openly called the thieves my friends! What!? A burglar hits our house and you look at me as if I'm an outsider of some sort? as if I'm on their side? It has since taken decades for me to recover my pride in the family's heritage -- what little of it I have been able to get back.
Most telling is his personal secretary's journal entry for the day he died. These were not the final moments of a man had an openly personal relationship with his God.
Just last night I was thinking about that "prayer" and how our President used the word pray to mean "sincerely hope" -- as in "want to occur." While writing a reply to one of these folks, I thought it would be both entertaining and enlightening (for me if nobody else) if I were able to find a way to use the same word in the same sense, giving it the same meaning. The challenge would be to make it clear that this was my intended meaning, that only those people who think with their mouths would get caught by it!
To be truthful, much of "our" research was done over one hundred years ago by a dedicated group of Freethinkers who were just as dismayed at the propagation of falsehood in the name of furthering religion as we are today by the phonies and sharpers of our generation. Interestingly, there are reports that numerous works were published during the final one-third of the nineteenth century which purported to have "actual quotations" and other "proof" that (usually) George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were pious orthodox Christians. Many others were subjects of their tracts and booklets, but these two were their favorites. They kept our forebears on their toes, and managed to worry and frustrate many of their own potential allies who would ordinarily be supporting more honest attempts to win the World for Christ.
Hey, one thing on the side: I have an intriguing proposition or request (or whatever). First, at this web site we feature a vast collection of what we call "De-Conversion Stories" (the word deconversion is deliberately misspelled in the titles because it is our unique Service Mark). This feature draws out numerous sordid tales both of becoming disenchanted with the religion of one's youth as well as becoming enthralled by the wonder of science and other aspects of a materialistic outlook.
I'm wondering what question(s) I could ask that might draw out those who'd be willing to tell us why they retain their faith: they're not fundamentalists, to be sure, but they're either happy leading a faith-based life or they simply lack whatever it is that pushes many believers to go ahead and cross that line into nonbelief. If you have any ideas, I'd be most obliged if I could take a look at them.
Meanwhile, I thank you from the essential regions of my emotional center.
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