George Washington: Deist or Atheist?

Found more evidence that George Washington would probably be an Atheist today. Thomas Jefferson conveyed that George Washington didn’t believe in that system, and if you asked him to confirm that he was a Christian George Washington would dodge directly answering that question unlike politicians today. George Washington refused to take communion at church and said he had never done so. His father was apparently deist and his mother was irreligious, so he was raised within freethought.

http://infidels.org/library/historical/john_remsburg/six_historic_americans/chapter_3.html

I especially love how whenever communion was about to start Washington would abruptly stand up and walk out of the church, ignoring any whispering or gossip it might cause. When a reverend confronted him about his bad behavior and for not setting a good example for religion, he said It was the first time he had been preached to, and he wouldn’t cause any trouble again. After that he simply stopped coming on days when communion was offered!

“The Rev. Dr. Wilson, who was almost a contemporary of our earlier statesmen and presidents, and who thoroughly investigated the subject of their religious beliefs, in his sermon already mentioned affirmed that the founders of our nation were nearly all Infidels, and that of the presidents who had thus far been elected – George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Jackson – not one had professed a belief in Christianity.”
When Washington needed servants he wrote:
“If they are good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa, or Europe; they may be Mahomedans, Jews, or Christians of any sect, or they may be Atheists.””

 

jefferson and washington.jpeg

It always annoys me when most religious conservatives today propagate the historical revisionist lie that this was a Christian nation because of the wording of the constitution, when it is obvious from his private writings that Jefferson was practically a closet Atheist, and his colleagues were mostly deists or irreligious. If evolution were known in that day he would have been an Atheist rather than just a skeptic, but as a practical matter it was nearly impossible not to be a Deist then due to insufficient answers and an environment of philosophical fallacies.
The environment that enabled free thought has regressed, and separation of church and state has weakened. “In God We Trust” on currency, and its insertion into the Pledge of Allegiance only started relatively recently as a knee-jerk patriotic response to the Communist scare from the godless USSR. Religion has increasingly infiltrated the government and particularly the Republican party, and now no politician can honestly run a campaign without saying he is a Christian in this country, except possibly Bernie Sanders who seems to have above average integrity.
There have also only been two or three openly Atheist congressmen out of thousands in the history of this country; one of them was from Northern California and was not re-elected a few years ago shortly after coming out. Obviously this is statistically unlikely when the percentage of Atheists in the population and especially among the upper classes is much higher. It’s obvious many must hide their views and be demagogues to win votes from prejudiced people.

The Founding Fathers had different values, from a different sort of belief

For your information 6 of 7 of the key figures a certain 1973 book calls founding fathers were deists, not Christians. It would be cool to meet Jefferson and Washington hanging in their circle-jerk club of Atheists and Deists, or in a secluded corner of a Freemasonry lodge. Jefferson would be feverishly cutting contradictions out of the bible with scissors and beating on his fedora, while he and Adams ranted about how much harm clergy have done in the history of mankind, and how this country could be better without their meddling. Benjamin Franklin would be talking about the inventions he had made with reason and human ingenuity without help from god.

  • John Adams
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • John Jay
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • James Madison
  • George Washington

I found a website with some great quotes by them. (Only John Jay was a Theist.) I’ll copy a few juicy bits for each man as a record of my jaunt through the internet. I recommend just visiting the site for them all:

http://www.freethought.mbdojo.com/foundingfathers.html

 

John Adams:

>”I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved– the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced!”
                            -letter to Thomas Jefferson

>”The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning.  And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY?  The blackest billingsgate, the most ungentlemanly insolence, the most yahooish brutality, is patiently endured, countenanced, propagated, and applauded.  But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes and hand, and fly into your face and eyes.”
                            – letter to John Taylor

 

“Can a free government possibly exist with the Roman Catholic religion?”      -letter to Thomas Jefferson

“God is an essence that we know nothing of.  Until this awful blasphemy is got rid of, there will never be any liberal science in the world.”

Benjamin Franklin:

 

“. . . Some books against Deism fell into my hands. . . It happened that they wrought an effect on my quite contrary to what was intended by them; for the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to me much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.”

 

“I cannot conceive otherwise than that He, the Infinite Father, expects or requires no worship or praise from us, but that He is even infinitely above it.”
            – “Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion”,  1728

 

“If we look back into history for the character of the present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution.  The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practiced it on one another.  The first Protestants of the Church of England blamed persecution in the Romish Church, but practiced it upon the Puritans.  They found it wrong in Bishops, but fell into the practice themselves both here (England) and in New England.”

 

“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” -in Poor Richard’s Almanac

“When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself so that its professors are obliged to call for the help of the civil power, ’tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

 

“In the affairs of the world, men are saved not by faith, but by the lack of it.”

 

Alexander Hamilton

“The world has been scourged with many fanatical sects in religion who, inflamed by sincere but mistaken zeal, have perpetuated under the idea of serving God the most atrocious crimes” (Hamilton, unpublished report on “The Cause of France” see Chernow, p. 659).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-j-rossano/hamiltons-religion_b_803677.html

Hamilton started as a Christian, flirted with Deism, and then returned to Christianity. He asked for Christian funeral rites while suffering for 30 hours after an illegal duel.

Thomas Paine then reprimanded the clergy for taking advantage of Hamilton while he was on his deathbed to make himself seem of more importance.

http://www.deism.com/paine_essay_mason.htm

 

(Of course not all of the signers of the constitution were Deists though.)

 

James Madison:

“Experience witnesseth that ecclesiastical establishments, instead of maintaining the purity and efficacy of religion, have had a contrary operation.  During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial.  What has been its fruits?  More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.”    – Ibid, 1785 .

 

“Religious bondage shackles and debilitates the mind and unfits it for every noble enterprise.”       -letter to Wm. Bradford, April 1, 1774

 

Btw, why do we still have chaplains opening the debates in congress? President James Madison himself said this was a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.

Thomas Jefferson & George Washington

I’ve written about them before. Thomas Jefferson cut up a bible – enough said there!

Thomas Paine

I’ve written about his book the Age of Reason.

Abraham Lincoln

Paid a lot of attention to his dreams. Was never particularly religious; probably was a deist.

 

 

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