George Washington;
Fence-Sitters; Trick Questions
Richard Celata, Jr.

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 the 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? Promote, then, as an object to primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

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From: "Positive Atheism" <>
To: "Richard P Celata Jr"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index on the fence
Date: Sunday, June 11, 2000 3:24 PM

I don't see anything in this about Christianity. Washington was probably a Deist at best, and was probably a Mason (my grandfather was a 32nd-degree Mason and was an atheist). One can be a moralist and not be a Christian (I am not a Christian and I advocate having very strong personal morals). One can also advocate the benefits of religion without being a Christian (and without even having Christianity in mind -- as Deism was the religion of choice among Washington's friends and colleagues).

Have you checked out our page on Washington? Although Washington advocated religion as good for the masses, he did not practice what he preached, and was publicly chastised for always ducking out of church right before Communion was served. After this public display, he stopped attending services (with his wife, at his wife's church) altogether on Communion Sunday. Washington was strangely silent on his personal religious views though he heartily recommended religion as being good for the masses.

Please explain to me how you come to suspect that Washington was a Christian based upon this passage, and how anyone can come to think that America is a Christian nation based upon the writings of its founding members. I always thought it was the Constitution that is the definition of what this country is.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine

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